Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum (NHM), and Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), have just signed an agreement on the NHM joining the CBD's Consortium of Scientific Partners on Biodiversity.
The CBD is the focus in the UN system for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, first agreed in 1992. It has made a major difference to the way in which biodiversity is monitored, conserved and used in many parts of the world since then. 192 countries are parties to the CBD, and they held their tenth conference in Nagoya, Japan at the end of 2010.
This meeting reviewed progress in reaching the 2010 targets for conserving biodiversity, but it is clear that there is no slowing of the rate of biodiversity loss on a global scale. Biodiversity is not only valuable in its own right, but provides essential services in terms of food, environment, medicine and other human needs, so substantial long-term loss is of major concern.
There is an increasing sense of urgency to address threats to biodiversity and the Nagoya meeting secured agreement on a new strategy looking foward to 2020, and on a number of other issues. One of these was a new protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources, which will be important in influencing the development and collaborative use of museum collections such as the NHM.
The Consortium is a group of major biodiversity institutions that are committed to collaborate with the CBD. Its purpose is to mobilise "the expertise and experience of these institutions in order to implement education and training activities to support developing countries that are building scientific, technical and policy skills in the area of biodiversity"
Current members are
- The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle de France
- The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
- The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
- The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
- The National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- The Mexican Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources
- The Higashiyama Botanical Gardens, City of Nagoya
- Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh
- The National Institute of Biological Resources
- The Missouri Botanical Gardens
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee
- The Natural History Museum of the United Kingdom
- The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity