Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

The 'Global Convention on Biological Diversity', signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, is an institutional arrangement which describes biodiversity as "the variability among all living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and ecological complexes of which they are part, this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems." The contracting parties are conscious of the importance of biological diversity for evolution and for maintaining life sustaining systems of the biosphere.

However, genetic diversity, species and whole ecosystems are disappearing as a result of human increasing demands on natural ecosystems. Our production methods pollute nature; population growth degrades ecosystems and consequently diversity of species declines. In a world of globalization conventional agriculture diminishes diversity of genetic resources. Many habitats are being converted to less diverse systems which provide more harvestable goods to people. The 'Global Biodiversity Assessment' notes that the main underlying causes of the loss of biodiversity are demographic, economic, institutional and technological factors.

Within the convention each contracting party has to fulfil several tasks such as controlling access to genetic resources, monitoring components of biological diversity, regulating biological resources and establishing means to limit the risks likely to affect the conservation of biodiversity; considering the risks to human health. The contracting parts note that, ultimately, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity will contribute to peace for humankind.

In the Division of Resource Economics this problem dimension is addressed in the following research projects:

  • Heywood, V.H. (1995). The Global Biodiversity Assessment. United Nations Environment Program. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Pp. xi + 1140.
  • McNeely, Jeffrey A. (1992): The sinking ark: pollution and the worldwide loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity and Conversation, 1 (1): 2-18.
  • United Nations (1992). Convention on Biological Diversity.