Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Loss of Nature, Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

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.


This problem dimension has been addressed in the following research projects:

    Impact of Environmental Agreements on the Common Agricultural Policy
Bogale,   Ayalneh Resource Governance and Emerging Institutions for Sustainable Management of Natural Forests in Ethiopia: Analysis of Institutional Change and Benefits to Forest Dwellers in Adaba-Dodola Forest Priority Area

Perez Carmona, Alexander

Ex ante Institutional Alignments to NIMBY Problems: The siting of sanitary landfills in Colombia

Bisaro, Sandy

Climate Adaptation, Adaptive Management and Multilevel Governance: Institutions for sustainability in Lesotho's wetlands

Gouja, Majdi

Sustainable Resource Use in Wetlands of the Mediterranean: The Case of the Tunisian Island Djerba

Seyoum, Aseffa (2009)

Microeconomics of Wild Coffee Genetic Resources Conservation in Southwestern Ethiopia: Forest zoning and economic incentives for conservation. Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol. 40. Aachen: Shaker

Boening, Frank (2007)

Accessing Land at the Agricultural Frontier. A case study from the Honduran Mosquitia. Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol. 33. Aachen: Shaker

Jungcurt, Stefan (2007)

Institutional Interplay in International Environmental Governance. Policy interdependence and strategic interaction in the regime complex on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol. 30. Aachen: Shaker

Gatzweiler, Franz (2002)

The Changing Nature of Economic Value. Indigenous gorest garden values in Kalimanatan, Indonesia. Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol. 16. Aachen: Shaker

Rommel, Kai (1998)

Kosten und Nutzen des Biosphärenreservates Schorfheide-Chorin. Eine empirische Analyse der mikroökonomischen Bestimmungsfaktoren einer naturerhaltenden Ökonomie. Regensburg: Transfer

Watanabe, Shigeo

Successful Elements of Bioprospecting Contracts in Case of Namibian Marula Oil

Gatzweiler, Franz

Political Economy of Biodiversity Conservation

Padmanabhan, Martina

Gender and Institutional Analysis - Resource Management in Asia and Africa

Hidayat, Aceng (2005) Institutional Analysis of Coral Reef Management: A case study of Gili Indah Village/West Lombok, Indonesia. Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol. 22. Aachen: Shaker



  • 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.