Ecology and Environment Notes Part 7 – UNFCCC, KYOTO PROTOCOL, Bonn Convention and Ramsar Convention

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • It is an international environmental treaty that was produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (informally known as the Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992.
  • The convention sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.  It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
  • Under the Convention, governments:
    1. Gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices
    2. Launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries
    3. cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
  • The treaty as originally framed set no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual nations and contained no enforcement provisions; it is therefore considered legally non-binding. Rather, the treaty included provisions for updates (called “protocols”) that would set mandatory emission limits. The principal update is the Kyoto Protocol, which has become much better known than the UNFCCC itself.
  • A key element of the UNFCCC is that parties should act to protect the climate system “on the basis of equality and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”
  • The principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ includes two fundamental elements.
  • The first is the common responsibility of Parties to protect the environment, or parts of it, at the national, regional and global levels.
  • The second is the need to consider the different circumstances, particularly each Party’s contribution to the problem and its ability to prevent, reduce and control the threat.
  • UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has the near-universal membership. The 195 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention.
  • UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)


  • It is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005
  • Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Green House Gas emissions in the atmosphere because of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
  • Targets for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol cover emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, namely:
    • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
    • Methane(CH4)
    • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
    • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
    • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
    • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
  • Convention divides countries into three main groups according to differing commitments:

Bonn Convention:

  • It is Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
  • Adopted in 1979 and entered in to force in 1983
  • This Convention aims to build and strengthen global conservation efforts for migratory species in the air, on land, and in the seas
  • It is an international and intergovernmental treaty backed by the United Nations Environmental Programme.
  • The Convention divides species into two appendices,
    • Appendix I, lists species that are threatened with extinction and
    • Appendix II, species that need or would benefit greatly from international cooperative conservation efforts.
  • Migratory species as defined in Convention means the entire population or any geographically separate part of the population of any species or lower taxon of wild animals a significant proportion of whose members cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries

Barcelona Convention:

  • It is Convention for Protection against Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea
  • It is a regional convention to prevent and abate pollution from ships, aircraft and land-based sources in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Convention was Adopted in 1976 and entered into force in 1978
  • In 1995 the Protocol was amended and recorded as the Protocol for the Prevention and Elimination of Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft or Incineration at Sea. The new Protocol is not yet in force.
  • The Convention’s main objectives are:
    • Assess and control marine pollution
    • Ensuring the sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources;
    • Integrate the environment in social and economic development;
    • Protect the marine environment and coastal zones through the prevention and reduction of pollution, and as far as possible, elimination of pollution, whether land or sea-based;
    • Protect natural and cultural heritage;
    • Strengthen solidarity among Mediterranean coastal States;
    • Contribute to the improvement of the quality of life.

Ramsar Convention

  • It is Convention on Wetlands of International Importance
  • Convention provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
  • The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and the Convention’s member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.
  • Ramsar is not affiliated with the United Nations system of Multilateral Environmental Agreements
  • Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was developed as a means to call international attention to the rate at which wetland habitats were disappearing, in part due to a lack of understanding of their important functions, values, goods and services. Governments that join the Convention are expressing their willingness to make a commitment to helping to reverse that history of wetland loss and degradation
  • Montreux Record under Ramsar List is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. So, it is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • Ramsar Convention works closely with five other organisations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs). These are Birdlife International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Wetlands International and WWF International. These support the work of the Convention by providing expert technical advice, helping implement field studies and providing financial support
  • Obligations under the convention:
    • To recommend sites for inclusion in the “List of Wetlands of International Importance”.
    • To ensure wise use of wetlands.
    • To establish reserves and promote training in wetland research, management and wardening.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.