The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement under the UN umbrella that focuses on biodiversity information, conservation and sustainable use. Most of the World's countries have signed up to the CBD since it was initiated in 1992. It represents a common understanding of what biodiversity is; who owns and controls genetic resources; what information is needed to protect biodiversity and make decisions about its use; and how countries work together on all sorts of issues.
Dr Chris Lyal of the NHM has developed a lot of expertise on policy, collaboration and capacity building under the CBD. He is the focal point for the UK for the Global Taxonomy Initative, a CBD programme that aims to share taxonomic information and expertise. As a scientist, Chris is an expert on the taxonomy of weevils, a group of beetles that are significant crop pests - this involves deep knowledge of classification, naming and description of new species from around the world.
The Conference of the Parties to CBD (COP) is held every couple of years and COP 11 is currently being held in Hyderabad in central India. Chris is there on behalf of the NHM and has been in discussion with delegates from governments and other organisations on the science behind biodiversity and CBD initiatives.
One of the foci for CBD is invasive species. There have always been natural patterns of change in the distribution of plants and animals. However, when humans cause species to be introduced - by accident or design - to new areas of the World they can cause major impacts. They may become pests on crops or cause unexpected declines in natural biodiversity, for example, and can have huge economic costs.
A new Global Invasive Alien Species Information Partnership has been formed to share and develop information on invasive species and to support development of expertise. Chris Lyal attended the inaugural signing of the partnership agreement and will be leading the NHM's contribution.
Chris (standing) signing the GIASIP agreement on behalf of the NHM