What are International Environmental Conventions and Protocols? What is the difference between Conference conventions and protocol? What are the major international conventions and Protocols? Read further to know more.
International Environmental conventions and protocols act as tools and safeguards for the environment. There are several norms and conventions in place to protect the many elements of the environment.
One of the top issues for a range of organisations is the environment. Numerous worldwide initiatives called for global cooperation and coordination for protection.
What are International Environmental Conventions and Protocols?
A legally binding agreement to take joint action to address or combat a worldwide environmental problem is known as an international environmental convention. It takes considerable effort for sovereign states with disparate interests to come to an agreement to take such action.
To address international environmental challenges at the global and regional levels, these agreements have multiplied in recent decades.
What is the difference between Environmental Conference conventions and protocols?
A convention is an official pact between governments that is typically a product of negotiations conducted by an international organisation.
A protocol is one tool that can be used to change a convention. All the states that have ratified the original convention are not required to abide by the modifications made by protocols.
What is Ramsar Convention?
- An international agreement known as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, which is located along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.
- For India, it went into effect in 1982.
- Wetlands that are significant internationally are designated as Ramsar sites.
- The goal of the Convention is to contribute to global sustainable development by conserving and wisely using all wetlands through local, national, and international collaboration.
- The List of Wetlands of International Importance includes wetlands, and the Montreux Record is a list of those wetlands where ecological characteristics have changed, are changing, or are likely to change as a result of human activity such as technological advancements, pollution, or other interference. It is kept up as a component of the Ramsar
- In India, there will be 54 declared wetlands as of 2022.
- Currently, Loktak Lake and Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) are the only two wetlands from India to appear in the Montreux Record (Manipur).
- Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in UP were recognised as two new Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance) in honour of World Wetlands
- Day 2022, which is observed on February 2nd each year.
What is Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora?
- States and regional economic integration groups voluntarily accede to CITES, an international pact.
- It was created in response to a decision made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s members in 1963 during a meeting (IUCN).
- CITES became operative in July 1975.
- There are 184 Parties as of right now (including countries or regional economic integration organizations).
- It tries to make sure that the survival of wild animals and plants is not endangered by international trade in their specimens.
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is in charge of running the CITES Secretariat, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
- It aids in the coordination, advice, and support functions of the Convention.
- The Conference of the Parties (COP) to CITES, which is made up of all of the Convention’s Parties, is the highest decision-making body.
- CITES is a binding agreement between the Parties, although national laws still apply.
- Instead, it offers a framework that each Party must adhere to in order to ensure that CITES is put into effect at the national level. Each Party is required to develop its own domestic law to do this.
What is Bonn Convention?
- The Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is another name for it (CMS). It is the sole treaty that addresses taking or gathering wild-caught species. 173 migratory species from all over the world are currently protected by it.
- The 13th COP of the CMS was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on Indian soil from February 17–22, 2020.
- In 1983, the Convention became operative. In 1984, the Secretariat that runs the Convention was created.
- The Convention had 133 Parties as of November 1st, 2019.
- The Convention has two Appendices:
- Appendix I: Lists migratory species that are endangered or threatened with extinction.
- Appendix II: Lists migratory species which have unfavourable conservation status and which require international agreements for their conservation and management.
- According to CMS, States have a responsibility to safeguard any species that resides inside or passes through their territorial or legal authority.
What is International Union for Conservation of Nature?
- IUCN is a membership organisation that is exclusively made up of governmental and non-governmental organisations.
- It was founded in 1948 and is the foremost expert on the state of the environment and the steps that must be taken to protect it.
- Its main office is in Switzerland.
- The world’s most thorough inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species is the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- It assesses the likelihood of species extinction using a set of quantitative criteria. All global regions and the majority of species are affected by these criteria.
- The extinction danger of a species is determined by the IUCN Red List Categories. There are nine categories, ranging from Extinct to Not Evaluated (NE) (EX). Species that are regarded to be in risk of going extinct include those that are Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), and Vulnerable (VU).
- It is regarded as the most reliable resource for information on the state of biological diversity.
- It serves as a crucial indicator for both the Aichi (Biodiversity) Targets and the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).
What is Global Tiger Forum?
- The GTF is the only intergovernmental organisation created with participants from willing nations to launch a global campaign to safeguard the tiger.
- On the advice of a global conference on tiger conservation held in New Delhi, India, it was established in 1993.
- It’s in India’s capital city of New Delhi.
What is Rio Earth Summit?
- The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, is sometimes known by this name.
- The Earth Summit served as a forum for Member States to coordinate conservation initiatives.
- Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 2, and Forest Principles are significant results.
- The Rio Declaration set forth 27 guiding principles for the future sustainable development of nations. It was endorsed by more than 175 nations.
What is United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)?
- In order to safeguard a more secure, fair, and sustainable future, UNCCD was founded in 1994.
- It is the only structure created by law that addresses the causes and impacts of desertification and drought.
- The UNCCD’s COP15 was recently held in Cote d’Ivoire, and the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India spoke there (Western Africa).
- The Convention has 197 Parties, including the European Union and 196 nation Parties (EU).
- The Convention is a global agreement to reduce the effects of land degradation and safeguard the land in order to ensure that all people have access to food, water, shelter, and economic opportunity. It is built on the concepts of participation, cooperation, and decentralisation.
- To repair and manage the world’s land, the Convention brings together governments, scientists, politicians, the commercial sector, and communities.
What is United Nations Framework Convention On Climatic Change (UNFCCC)?
- A global environmental pact addressing climate change is the UNFCC.
- Accords were negotiated and signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992 at the UN (CED) Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit).
- Headquartered in Bonn; entered into effect on March 21, 1994; 197 parties.
- The goal is to maintain atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations at a level that prevents harmful human involvement with the climate system.
- Initially, it did not have any mechanisms for enforcement and did not impose any legally enforceable caps on national GHG emissions.
- This approach was used to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol (1997).
- The UNFCCC Climate-Tech Centre Network, which serves as the organization’s operational arm, is governed by the COP. It encourages technology transfer for low-carbon and climate-resilient development.
What is United Nations Convention On Biodiversity (UNCBD)?
- A multinational agreement with legal force. UNCBD adopted in the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.
1993 entry into effect; 196 countries have ratified; secretariat in Montreal, Canada.
- The USA has signed the agreement but has not yet ratified it.
- For the first time, it acknowledged that humankind as a whole shares a concern for biological variety conservation.
- The goals are to preserve biological diversity, utilise biological resources (or its components) sustainably, and share gains from the utilisation of genetic resources fairly and equally.
- In December 2010, the UN named the years 2011 through 2020 the “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.”
- India passed the “Biological Diversity Act” in 2002 to put the CBD’s requirements into practise.
What is United Nations Environmental Programme?
- A worldwide environmental authority known as UNEP (UN Environment) supports the consistent application of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the framework of the United Nations.
- Following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in June 1972, it was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
- In order to evaluate climate change based on the most recent scientific findings, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) founded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988.
- The UNEP has been instrumental in the creation of global environmental agreements ever since its founding (MEAs).
- UNEP now hosts the secretariats for the following nine MEAs:
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
- Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
- Minamata Convention on Mercury
- Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
- Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
What is Montreal Protocol
- It relates to the elements that weaken the ozone layer and is a protocol to the Vienna Convention. ODS, or ozone depleting substance
- It was the first pact to receive ratification from every country.
- It became official in 1987. It became effective in 1989.
- The protocol acknowledges that not every country should be treated similarly.
What is Kyoto Protocol?
- was approved in 1997 at CoP3 of the UNFCCC in Kyoto, Japan. commenced as of February 2005.
- Parties: 192 plus South Sudan, Canada, Andorra, and the United States are not
- In 2002, India approved the protocol.
- In the first commitment period, 2008 to 2012, the Protocol sought to reduce emissions of GHGs in the developed countries by approximately 5% by 2012 compared to 1990 levels.
For the six GHGs mentioned in Annex A, the Kyoto Protocol is applicable.
Important International Environmental Conventions and Protocols
The list of significant international environmental conventions is shown in the table below.
|List of Environmental Conventions|
|Name||Year of Establishment|
|Convention on Biological Diversity||1992|
|United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)||1992|
|Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety||2000|
Brief about Environmental Conventions and protocols
- It is an organic persistent pollutants convention (POPs)
- It was approved in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2001.
- It became effective in 2004.
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- It is an agreement to protect the ozone layer.
- It became law in 1985.
- In 1988, it became law.
- It is a convention on the management of the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste.
- It became official in 1989.
- In 1992, it became law.
- The Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international environmental agreement.
- It became official in 2000.
- In 2003, it went into effect.
- The UN Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation is what it is called.
- It was made in that year.
- Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Resulting from their utilization (ABS) is an international environmental protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
- It became official in 2010.
- It becomes effective in 2014.
- A modification to the Montreal Protocol has been made.
- It became official in 2016.
- It became effective in 2019.
- It is an international environmental agreement created to guard against the harmful effects of mercury on human health and the environment.
- It became official in 2013.
- It becomes effective in 2017.
- Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is an international environmental accord.
- It became official in 1998.
- It became effective in 2004.
- At the COP 27, nations joined forces to take concrete steps toward meeting the global climate targets set forth in the Paris Agreement and the Convention.
- The conference was held at Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh.
- Since COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, in 2016, this is the first COP to be hosted in a developing nation.
- Through increased flows of suitable financing, increased adaptation efforts, and reduced emissions, it aims to hasten global climate action.
- For many Parties, ratification and implementation of the International Environmental Conventions and protocols will lessen health and environmental effects more affordably than taking unilateral action.
- Additionally, it has economic advantages since it ensures a level playing field for business across borders and stops Parties from competing with one another at the expense of the environment and human health.
- Factors that have a negative impact on human health, threaten food security, impede economic growth, accelerate climate change, and deteriorate the ecosystem that supports our very existence.
- The Convention offers a forum for discussing these links and takes steps to mitigate their harmful effects.
Also read: Ecocide
UPSC Previous Year Questions on Environmental Conventions & Protocols
kind of questions that are asked in Prelims with reference to international environmental conventions.
1. Consider the following statements:
- Under Ramsar Convention, it is mandatory on the part of the Government of India to protect and conserve all the wetlands in the territory of India.
- The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 were framed by the Government of India based on the recommendations of the Ramsar Convention.
- The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 also encompass the drainage area or catchment regions of the wetlands as determined by the authority.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC Prelims 2019 Question)
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
2. “Momentum for Change: Climate Neutral Now” is an initiative launched by (UPSC Prelims 2018 Question)
(a) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(b) The UNEP Secretariat
(c) The UNFCCC Secretariat
(d) The World Meteorological Organisation
3. With reference to the ‘Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (CACSA)’, which of the following statements is/are correct.’? (UPSC Prelims 2016 Question)
- GACSA is an outcome of the Climate Summit held in Paris in 2015.
- Membership of GACSA does not create any binding obligations.
- India was instrumental in the creation of GACSA.
Select the correct answer using the code given
(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
4. With reference to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC Prelims 2015 Question)
- IUCN is an organ of the United Nations and CITES is an international agreement between governments.
- IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments.
- CITES is legally binding on the States that have joined it, but this Convention does not take the place of national laws.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
5. With reference to ‘Global Environment Facility’, which of the following statements is/are correct?
- It serves as a financial mechanism for ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ and ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’.
- It undertakes scientific research on environmental issues at the global level
- It is an agency under OECD to facilitate the transfer of technology and funds to underdeveloped countries with a specific aim to protect their environment.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 2
(d) all the above
6. With reference to a conservation organization called Wetlands International’, which of the following statements is/are correct?
- It is an intergovernmental organization formed by the countries which are signatories to Ramsar Convention.
- It works at the field level to develop and mobilize knowledge, and use the practical experience to advocate for better policies.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.(UPSC Prelims 2014 Question)
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
7. Consider the following statements: Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone-depleting substances, are used? (UPSC Prelims 2012 Question)
- in the production of plastic foams
- in the production of tubeless tyres
- in cleaning certain electronic components
- as pressurizing agents in aerosol cans
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 4 only
(c) 1, 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4