Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

HQ: Montreal, Canada

Focal Point: Mr. Paulo Tagliari / cc. Hai Li

Email: paulo.tagliari [at] / [at]


Key Figures: Greenhouse gas emissions*

* CBD’s total and per capita emissions fluctuate considerably between consecutive years. This is because its air travel related emissions are heavily affected by its biannual cycle of activities, in particular the biannual meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention and the Parties to its Protocols (COP and COP-MOPs), and related precursory meetings, for which the CBD Secretariat, through dedicated Trust Funds, successfully facilitates the travel and participation of a large number of participants from developing-country Parties in order to ensure the full and effective participation of all Parties in these meetings.

Key Figures: Water


Executive Secretary's message


“Climate change is having a major impact on biodiversity, with negative consequences for our future well-being. Nature-based solutions have the potential to be one third of the climate solutions by 2030. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is committed to fulfill its mandate to assist Parties to conserve, sustainably use, and benefit from biodiversity, whilst actively promoting nature-based solutions to climate change and reducing its own carbon footprint."

Dr. Cristiana Paşca Palmer, PhD
UN Assistant Secretary-General
Executive Secretary, CBD



The objectives of the Convention are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, considering all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding.

Experience so far


The CBD's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint are part of a wider strategy to green its operations. The plan for this was originally presented at CBD COP 9 in 2008 and includes a number of measures which have subsequently been increased and modified to improve environmental management. 

EMS and Reduction efforts


The Secretariat has undertaken measures to reduce the emissions that result from its activities and worked on a number of measures to improve its environmental performance such as: 

•    The CBD adopted video conferences and online workshop practices and is further implementing this policy. This policy is prioritized during the formulation of capacity building activities and, where possible, for representing the CBD at international fora.
•    Decision 23, COP 13, recognized the need for a more integrated and coherent approach to capacity-building and technical and scientific cooperation in supporting the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols as well aiming to reduce air travels for organizing the workshops.
•    The CBD Secretariat is a Ticket Processing Office (TPO) in the UN system.  As such, it monitors the itinerary options provided by the travel agency to make sure the UN Rules and Regulations are strictly adhered to, including with respect to the class of service. CBD also strives to find direct flights or shorter flights for both staff members and participants travel.  The efforts deployed by the TPO have a direct impact on the class of service selected and hence on the carbon emissions. These policies are applied systematically and consistently to all CBD meetings
•    In September 2018 the CBD Secretariat installed a highly energy efficient cooling system for its computer server room.

In addition, in the location of the CBD Secretariat (Quebec, Canada), electricity is primarily generated by hydro-electric generation. 98% of Hydro Quebec power is generated by renewable sources, which leads to relatively low emissions for electricity usage.

•    The building management company that provides and manages the Secretariat offices (World Trade Centre, Montréal) has specific reduction efforts in place, including: Measures to reduce exchange of temperature for better insulation such as double glazing is introduced to the building.
•    The office is equipped with automatic energy savers such as timers for light control, thermostats for temperature control inside offices.

The building is using relatively improved traction elevators to reduce energy consumption. The number of elevators is relatively low (only two elevators giving access to CBD’s offices) which also help in reducing energy consumption.

The Secretariat encourages staff to use public transport or walking /cycling and to avoid car use for commuting.
The Secretariat works with the authorities and service providers of host countries of meetings of the Conference of the Parties and other major intergovernmental meetings to reduce the emissions associated with the organization of these meetings including from local transport. The Secretariat is also working with the authorities and service providers of host countries with a view to promote sustainable sourcing of food and to reduce meat consumption.

Additional waste reduction measures are indicated below.

Inventory Management Plans


The building in which the Secretariat is located has green building certifications.

•    A -  BOMA BEST Certification level: Platinum
(Platinum is awarded to buildings that have met the BEST Practices and have achieved between 90 and 100% on the questionnaire.) BOMA BEST is Canada’s largest environmental assessment and certification programme for existing buildings. It is a unique, voluntary programme designed by industry for industry; it provides owners and managers with a consistent framework for assessing the environmental performance and management of existing buildings of all sizes.

•    B - LEED SILVER - The LEED Green Building Rating Systems are voluntary, consensus-based, and market-driven. Based on existing and proven technology, they evaluate environmental performance from a whole building perspective over a building’s life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a green building in design, construction, and operation.



Since 2008, through agreement developed the Secretariat, the State Government of Paraná in Brazil committed to offset all carbon emissions arising out of the CBD Secretariat's operations since the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), including the travel of funded Party representatives to attend official CBD meetings. The commitment was made at the CBD COP 9 in Bonn, Germany, in a memorandum of cooperation signed on 27 May 2008. The off-setting programme is still in operation and the agreement is expected to cover CBD’s carbon emissions until at least December 2020.

The associated Reforestation Programme supports the restoration of ecosystems associated with the original Atlantic Rain Forest, protects river borders from erosion, and creates a buffer zone for the protected areas around Foz do Iguaçu National Park. SCBD and the Government of the State of Parana (BRA) have manifested mutual interest in continuing the programme beyond 2020.

Through an agreement with UNFCCC, CBD has purchased 1,100 AF CERs, thus fully compensating its emissions for 2018.

Waste management


Paper waste reduction

•    Major meetings of the Convention now use a Print Smart approach to document production. The Secretariat has developed a PrintSmart application which allows meeting participants to download in-session documents or to print on demand and collect their copies at a central kiosk. Furthermore, pre-session documents are no longer made available at the meetings in paper format but are available online for downloads or distributed in USB keys when requested. These practices have resulted in reductions of more than 80% in paper usage compared to previous practices and have also impacted in the reduction of paper waste. Staff members are encouraged not to print, and printers set to double-sided printing.

•    To further minimize the impact of the CBD meetings on the environment, the Secretariat is implementing a new initiative which minimizes the distribution of hard-copy publications. As such, a “display only” copy of the publication will be available for perusal or order only. A webpage on the CBD website will be created and linked to the COP website which will contain an index of publications (by organization) and their web links for uploading/downloading. Regarding side events and exhibition booths during the COP: reduction of the amount of publications is prioritized; All types of information can be directly posted online, including videos, flyers, publications and web links. The shipment of essential documents in small amounts (1 box) of publications for distribution within the side-events, fairs and exhibition booths are only permitted. Furthermore, caterers are required to avoid all use of single-use plastics, in line with the new guidelines for UN Headquarters.

•    Other measures to manage and reduce waste include:`

  • Take-back clauses included in procurement contracts.
  • Provision of mains-fed filtered water to reduce plastic bottle use.
  • The building management company in charge of the Secretariat offices has reliable monitoring and reporting of waste types and amounts and has adopted a waste management policy that takes advantage of opportunities for recycling and re-use. The percentage of waste diversion in World Trade Centre Montréal was 62.7% in 2018 -  it was 50.9 in June 2017.  
  • Polystyrene packaging and containers were eliminated from restaurants in the food court of the building where the Secretariat is located. 

Water Management


The water distribution and waste water activities are managed by the building under the above-mentioned certifications.

  • BOMA BEST Certification level: Platinum

The CBD staff is highly concerned about the water consumption best practices.

Next steps

The Secretariat has worked on several measures to improve its environmental performance including minimizing the impact of the COP meetings on the environment, the Secretariat is exploring replacements of its plastic meeting cards with cardboard cards with a view to introducing these by 2020.  a new initiative which minimizes the distribution of hard-copy publications.

The Secretariat will explore additional measures to reduce the environmental footprint of its activities and of other activities under the Convention, work to further codify existing measures and ensure their systematic application, including, as far as possible, and appropriate through Host Government Agreements.

CBD case studies