UNESCO’s interest in biological diversity dates back to the early days of the Organization, under its first Director General, biologist Julian Huxley. Among the early activities was joining with the French Government and the Swiss League for Nature in the setting-up in 1948 of IUCN, the World Conservation Union.
In terms of island biodiversity, UNESCO’s continuing concern is rooted in two complementary international initiatives for the conservation of biological diversity: the Convention for the Protection of the World’s Natural and Cultural Heritage and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Both the World Heritage List and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves contain relatively few sites in SIDS, and the coordinating bodies and secretariats for both initiatives have identified measures for redressing present under-representation and reinforcing activities in SIDS.
In addition to these two concepts and tools for promoting the in situ conservation of biological diversity, other activities include studies on marine living resources within the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) (e.g. collaborative assessments of coral reefs, benthic fauna, harmful marine algae), work related to the educational and ethical dimensions of biodiversity, and issues at the interface of biological diversity and cultural diversity.
Biodiversity conservation in small islands has also been addressed in a range of activities within the Small Islands and Indigenous Knowledge Section - SII - (formely called Coastal Regions and Small Islands Platform - CSI). These include contributions to the discussion forums on Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Development (WiCoP), Small Islands Voice (SIV) and On the Frontlines of Climate Change (Climate Frontlines), as weel as field experience in such locations as the Surin Islands in the Andaman Sea, Thailand, Vanuatu, etc.
In these and other fields, collaborative activities are carried out in partnership with the Convention on Biological Diversity and a range of international conventions, agreements and organizations.
- World Heritage Convention
- Using Biosphere Reserves to Promote Biodiversity Conservation in SIDS
- Approaching Conservation Across Land and Marine Ecosystems
- IOC and Marine Biodiversity
- Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands
- Organizational Linkages and Parnerships
- Participation Programme
- UNESCO Focal Points for 'Biodiversity Resources' in SIDS Regions