Conference of the Parties (COP)

What is the Conference of the Parties?

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the highest decision-making body under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The COP holds an ordinary meeting on a regular basis and may call an extraordinary meeting (EXCOP) at the request of at least one third of the Parties. It is responsible for reviewing the implementation of the Convention; reviewing and adopting the Protocols; considering revisions to the Convention and its Annexes and Protocols; and establishing subsidiary bodies. The COP may adopt the rules of procedure for the meetings of it subsidiaries bodies after consultation. Since 1994, the COP has held 15 ordinary meetings. It convened annually from the first to third meetings, and has met every two years since the fourth meeting.

Dates and venues of past COP meetings

  • COP 1
    Nov. 28 – Dec. 9, 1994Nassau, Bahamas
  • COP 2
    Nov. 6 – 17, 1995Jakarta, Indonesia
  • COP 3
    Nov. 4 – 15, 1996Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • COP 4
    May 4 – 15, 1998Bratislava, Slovakia
  • EXCOP 1
    Feb. 22 – 23, 1999Cartagena, Colombia
  • EXCOP 1 Resumed
    Jan. 24 – 28, 2000Montreal, Canada
  • COP 5
    May 15 – 26, 2000Nairobi, Kenya
  • COP 6
    Apr. 7 – 19, 2002Hague, Netherlands
  • COP 7
    Feb. 9 – 20, 2004Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • COP 8
    Mar. 20 – 31, 2006Curitiba, Brazil
  • COP 9
    May 19 – 30, 2008Bonn, Germany
  • COP 10
    Oct. 18 – 29, 2010Nagoya, Japan
  • COP 11
    Oct. 8 – 19, 2012Hyderabad, India
  • COP 12
    Oct. 6 – Oct. 17, 2014Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea
  • COP 13
    Dec. 4 – 17, 2016Cancun, Mexico
  • COP 14
    Nov. 17 – 29, 2018Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
  • COP 15
    Oct. 11 – 15, 2021Kunming, China (PART 1)
    Dec. 7 – 19, 2022Montreal, Canada (PART 2)

Key agenda items and decisions


COP 1 was held in Nassau, Bahamas from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, 1994. During this meeting, the Parties discussed the need for a Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) for technical and scientific cooperation and the selection of a competent international organization to carry out the functions of the Secretariat of the Convention. Other issues addressed include the budget and location of the Secretariat.

  • Adoption of a medium-term programme of work
  • Establishment of a CHM and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)
  • Selection of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as an interim financial mechanism of the Convention


COP 2 was held in Jakarta, Indonesia from Nov. 6 to 17, 1995. During this meeting, the Parties decided to develop a protocol on the international transfer of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. To this end, they agreed to establish an ad hoc working group tasked with preparing the protocol to ensure safety in biotechnology by 1998. The Parties also decided to have the GEF continue to serve as an interim financial mechanism of the Convention. Other decisions included the hosting of the Secretariat in Montreal, Canada and facilitating the exchange of information and experience on measures taken by the Parties to ensure the conservation, sustainable use and in situ conservation of biodiversity.

  • Development of the protocol
  • Operation of the CHM
  • Maintenance of the GEF’s function as an interim financial mechanism


COP 3 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from Nov. 4 to 15, 1996. During this meeting, the Parties addressed general measures to ensure conservation and sustainable use at the national level, including the need to develop and implement national strategies, plans and programmes in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention. They also discussed access to genetic resources, conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, implementation of Article 8 (j) on traditional knowledge and related provisions, issues related to biosafety, intellectual property rights and an MOU between the Convention and the GEF.

  • Assessment of biodiversity and potential methodologies to be used in the future
  • Progress on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ Global System for the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  • Access to genetic resources
  • Issues related to technology and its transfer
  • Intellectual property rights
  • FAO : Food and Agriculture Organization


COP 4 was held in Bratislava, Slovakia in May 1998. During this meeting, the Parties agreed to hold thematic working level meetings, including those on the development of guidelines for sustainable tourism, an expert panel on benefit-sharing, a working group on traditional knowledge, and an informal advisory committee for the CHM. They also decided to work together to facilitate the exchange of experience and case studies related to environmental impact assessments and incentives and the harmonization of implementation measures. In addition, the Parties addressed measures to improve the operational efficiency of the GEF, provided additional guidance to the financial mechanism, decided to establish a working group to develop a programme of work on traditional knowledge and specified its mandate. This marks the first time that the COP discussed benefit-sharing arising from the use of genetic resources, one of the key issues under the Convention.

  • Adoption of recommendations of the third meeting of the SBSTTA and instructions by the COP
  • Review of the operations of the CHM
  • Implementation of Article 8(j) and related provisions
  • Implementation of the Convention
  • Issues related to benefit-sharing
  • Financial resources and the financial mechanism


EXCOP 1 was held in Canada, Montreal in 2000. During this meeting, the Parties adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention, a legally binding international agreement based on the precautionary principle where scientific uncertainty regarding the risk of an LMO should not hinder the importer country’s decision to ban its import. The Protocol offered legal grounds to regulate the indiscriminate transport of LMOs. In the Preamble, the Protocol recognized that trade and environment agreements should be mutually supportive and that the Protocol should not affect the rights and obligations of a Party under any existing international agreements. It also made it clear that the Protocol is not subordinated to other international agreements, leaving the possibility of conflict with WTO agreements,

  • Adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
  • Establishment of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol


COP 5 was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2000. During the meeting, the Parties endorsed a work plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety adopted in Montreal in Jan. of the same year, and a total of 68 Parties signed the Protocol. The meeting reaffirmed the Parties’ political commitment to the implementation of the Protocol and reflected heightened interest in LMOs from the international community. The Parties also decided to extend the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS), one of the key issues under the Convention, and that of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions to address implementation issues related to the preservation of traditional knowledge that contributes to the protection of genetic resources. In addition, they agreed to establish technical expert groups to study degradation of biodiversity in forest, coastal, arid and semi-arid ecosystems driven by climate change.

  • Follow-up action to the adoption of the Protocol
  • ABS on genetic resources
  • Prevention of the risk of alien species and conservation of ecosystems
  • Protection of traditional knowledge and benefit-sharing


COP 6 was held in The Hague, Netherlands in 2002. During the meeting, the Parties adopted the Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits Arising out of their Utilization, specified requirements of a precautionary approach (principle) to alien species, and developed the Strategic Plan for the Convention of Biological Diversity and work programmes on forest biodiversity. These concrete outcomes provided the foundation to make the Convention binding. Other discussed topics include conservation and management of agricultural and forest ecosystems, implementation of incentive measures, valuing of traditional knowledge, and liability and redress.

  • ABS on genetic resources
  • Protection of traditional knowledge
  • Liability and redress, ecosystem approach, sustainable use and incentive measures
  • Global Taxonomy Initiative
  • Global Strategy for Plant Conservation


COP 7 was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2004. During the meeting, the Parties discussed but failed to agree on an international regime on sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. While developed countries called for benefit-sharing through bilateral negotiation on a voluntary basis, developing countries demanded a legally-binding international regime that would apply to all countries. The Parties considered options to have each country register and manage its own biological resources at the national level or register them collectively with an international organization. After failing to reach an agreement, they decided to continue the discussion at the expert group meeting. They also discussed a programme to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss and addressed ways to facilitate the transfer and cooperation of technology among developed and developing countries for conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. The ministerial segment adopted the Kuala Lumpur Declaration.

  • Adoption of the Bonn Guidelines on ABS
  • Article 8(j) on traditional knowledge
  • Progress made on the implementation of the expanded programme of work on forest biodiversity
  • Sustainable use
  • Invasive alien species
  • Administration and budget of the Convention


COP 8 was held in Curitiba, Brazil in 2006. Among the key issues discussed during the meeting were ABS on genetic resources, arrangements on use of traditional knowledge, use of deep seabed genetic resources, and genetic use restriction technologies. Developed and developing countries showed a significant gap in their views on prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms for use of genetic resources, as well as derivatives and products of genetic resources. It is expected to take some time before an agreement could be reached. Developed countries including Japan, Australia and Canada and developing countries with rich biodiversity and indigenous groups openly voiced their opinions. During the meeting, the Parties addressed island biodiversity, concerns over use of genetically modified (GM) trees, and avian influenza in inland wetland ecosystems. Other topics included ABS on genetic resources, disclosure of the country of origin in intellectual property rights applications, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).

  • Island biodiversity
  • Global Taxonomy Initiative
  • ABS on genetic resources
  • Article 8(j) and related provisions
  • Incentive measures
  • Impact assessment
  • Liability and redress
  • Biodiversity and climate change


COP 9 was held in Bonn, Germany in 2007. During the meeting, the Parties agreed to develop an international regime on ABS by COP 10 to be held in 2010. They also decided to assess and integrate into the work programmes of the Convention the positive and negative impacts of climate change on biodiversity and discussed the introduction and regulation of GM trees. These issues indicate a transition of the focus toward economic elements from biodiversity conservation.

  • The 2010 target for the development of an international regime on ABS
  • Biodiversity and climate change (e.g. Ocean fertilization)
  • Agricultural biodiversity (e.g. Biofuel)
  • Forest biodiversity (e.g. GM trees)

COP 10

COP 10 was held in Nagoya, Japan from Oct. 18 – 29, 2010. The Parties continued to negotiate the text of a protocol on ABS until the last day of the meeting. The result was the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted by Decision X/1 on Oct. 29. The COP requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to be the Depositary of the Protocol and to open it for signature from Feb. 2, 2011 to Feb. 1, 2012. It also decided to establish an Open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on ABS (ICNP) and hold two ICNP meetings in the intersessional period. In Decision X/1, the COP requested the Executive Secretary to:

  • Provide technical assistance to Parties to support the early ratification and implementation of the Protocol;
  • Carry out awareness-raising activities among relevant stakeholder groups, including the business community, the scientific community and others, to support the implementation of the Protocol;
  • Collect and make available on the CHM sectoral and cross-sectoral model contractual clauses for mutually agreed terms and existing guidelines and codes of conduct related to ABS
  • Adopt the Nagoya Protocol;
  • Adopt the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011- 2020;
  • Adopt a decision on the strategy for resource mobilization for the implementation of the Convention; and
  • Welcome the establishment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

COP 11

  • COP 11 was held in Hyderabad, India from Oct. 8 – 19, 2012 under the theme ‘Nature Protects, if She is Protected.’

COP 12

COP 12 was held in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea from Sep. 29 – Oct. 17, 2014 under the theme ‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.’ The meeting raised awareness in the international community of the contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development and highlighted the importance of integrating biodiversity into the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Interim review of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020
  • Called for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020
    During the meeting, the Parties adopted the Pyeongchang Roadmap which includes the following key elements to be promoted by the international community to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets:
  • Promotion and technical and scientific cooperation proposed in the Bio-Bridge Initiative;
  • Capacity-building;
  • Strategy for resource mobilization for the implementation of the Convention; and
  • Integration of biodiversity into the SDGs.

COP 13

COP 13 was held in Cancun, Mexico from Dec. 2 – 17, 2016. During the meeting, the Parties discussed the integration of biodiversity into forestry, fisheries, agriculture and tourism sectors, implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, protected areas, restoration of ecosystems, marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and health, synthetic biology, and matters related to traditional knowledge. They also agreed to strengthen capacity-building and resource mobilization.

  • Cancun Declaration on mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for well-being
  • Adoption of recommendations on the use of biological control agents against invasive alien species
  • Adoption of guidelines for the development of legislation to prevent unlawful appropriation of traditional knowledge held by indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) and ensure the sharing of benefits
  • Adoption of the broad definition of synthetic biology

COP 14

COP 14 was held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from Nov. 14 – 29, 2018. During the meeting, the Parties adopted the Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration, which is aimed at mainstreaming biodiversity across all sectors including infrastructure, energy and health. They also stressed the importance of the participation of relevant stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and local communities, women, youth, local and subnational governments, academia and businesses in facilitating the mainstreaming of biodiversity in various sectors, including through integrating the value of biodiversity and ensuring sustainable consumption and production.

  • Mainstreaming of biodiversity in all aspects of life to ensure its conservation and sustainable management
  • The Executive Secretary called for action from the international community, stating, “If we do not act soon, we could reach a tipping point that may cause irreversible destruction to nature and, ultimately, humankind.”
  • Development of biosafety consensus documents to assess the safety of genetically modified fish and other products made from engineered gene drive technology
  • Establishment of an open-ended working group on the preparation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework for the next two years

COP 15

The first part of COP 15 was held online in Kunming, China from Oct. 11 – 15, 2021, followed by the second part in Montreal, Canada from Dec. 7 – 19, 2022. During the Montreal meeting, the Parties adopted six key decisions including the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM-GBF), the monitoring framework for the KM-GBF, digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources, resource mobilization, capacity-building and development and technical and scientific cooperation, and mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review.

  • Adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
  • Establishment of an ad hoc open-ended working group on benefit-sharing from the use of DSI to undertake further development of the multilateral mechanism
  • Development of a long-term strategic framework for capacity-building and development and the establishment of regional and/or subregional centers to facilitate technical and scientific cooperation
  • Development of a strategy for resource mobilization, including by creating within the Global Environment Facility a trust fund dedicated to biodiversity by 2030
  • Strengthening of a system to assess and review progress in the implementation of the Biodiversity Framework