Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

HQ: Montreal, Canada

Focal Point: Paulo Tagliari / Hai Li

Email: [email protected][email protected]

Internal Sustainability Team: Two staff members, both part-time devoted to sustainability issues.  

The entity may not report waste data for all its personnel. Please refer to the entity's personnel chart below for more information.
All entity personnel are included in the entity's greenhouse gas emission inventory.


"The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity attaches great importance to the UN system-wide efforts on environmental sustainability management. These efforts contribute directly to the objectives of the Convention. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further brought into evidence the need to re-imagine and transform our relationship with nature. It has shown that safeguarding the environment and biodiversity must be at the heart of our actions and plans. The time to act is now.  

We, as the UN Family have the responsibility to walk the talk, to lead by example, to do more and better to implement a common vision for the sustainability of our programmes, facilities and operations and ensure that our work is nature positive and climate neutral.  

As I welcome the annual update on our joint efforts and the publication of the 2021 Greening the Blue report, I renew the commitment of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity for integrating environmental considerations into all our functions and our ambition for a world living in harmony with nature."  

Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema

Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity


The objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 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.  

The Convention has two Protocols, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. 

 The Secretariat facilitates the intergovernmental processes of the Convention and its Protocols and provides mandated elements of support to their implementation. 

Alignment with the Strategy for sustainability management in the United Nations system, 2020–2030

Over previous years, CBD Secretariat has put in place a series of measures that align closely with the UN 2020-2030 strategy for sustainability management. These are described elsewhere in this report and key aspects are summarized below.

Environmental impact areas

1. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – minimizing travel, offsetting GHG emissions trough UNFCC CERs and a forest restoration programme by which approximately 5 hectares of restored forest per SCBD staff has been achieved (see:; 

2. Waste – paper free meetings of the Convention and its Protocols; waste management measures at HQ; 

3. Water – water distribution and waste water activities at HQ; 

4. Air Pollution – HQ facilities: BOMA Best-Gold level certification in the fall of 2019 and LEED Platinum Certification in the Existing Building category in February 2020;

5. Biodiversity – As a fixed secretariat without field operations, the biodiversity provisions of phase I of the 2020-2030 strategy are not directly relevant to the CBD Secretariat. Given its expertise in the subject area, the Secretariat is contributing to the further elaboration and strengthening of the biodiversity component of the strategy.    

Management functions

1. Procurement – Sustainable procurement practices for greener meetings is being gradually implemented; 

2. Facilities management – HQ facilities: BOMA Best-Gold level certification in the fall of 2019 and LEED Platinum Certification in the Existing Building category in February 2020;

3. Travel – measures to minimize travel ensure efficient itineraries and meeting locations;

4. Events – measures to minimize environmental footprint of the intergovernmental meetings of the Convention and its Protocols;

5. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) – maximizing virtual meetings and events.


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 the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CBD COP 9) in 2008 and includes a number of measures which have subsequently been increased and modified to improve environmental management.


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.  

  • The Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 13), in its Decision XIII/23, 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. 


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

A -  BOMA Best-Gold level certification in the fall of 2019 

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 Platinum Certification in the Existing Building category in February 2020 - 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 by 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 9), including the travel of funded Party representatives to attend official CBD meetings of the Convention and its Protocols. 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, when it is expected to be renewed. 

Through this agreement, 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.  


In addition, through an agreement with UNFCCC, CBD has purchased 322 AF CERs, thus fully compensating its emissions for 2020. 


Paper waste reduction 

  • Major meetings of the Convention and its Protocols 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 was 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 at the meetings of the Convention and its Protocols are required to eliminate all use of single-use plastics, in line with the 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.  

Due to the COVID pandemic and lack of occupancy in 2020, ALLIED, the company managing the building, did not conduct a waste diversion report for the property. 

Polystyrene packaging and containers were eliminated from restaurants in the food court of the building where the Secretariat is located. 


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

  • BOMA Best-Gold level certification in the fall of 2019  

  • LEED Platinum Certification in the Existing Building category in February 2020  

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

Other Environmental Measures 

See CBD forest restoration programme in Offsetting above.


The Secretariat has worked on several measures to improve its environmental performance such as: 

To further minimize the impact of the COP meetings on the environment, the Secretariat has introduced replacements of its plastic meeting cards with cardboard cards. A new initiative which minimizes the distribution of hard-copy publications will be introduce for future physical presence meetings 

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. 

The Secretariat is engaged in a collaborative project for the development of new and updated Environmental Management System and Standard Operating Procedures.