The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the first conventions that links the protection of biodiversity to sustainable development. It was negotiated during the World Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (Earth Summit) and has three major objectives:

1. the conservation and protection of biodiversity;
2. the sustainable use of natural resources;
3. the equitable sharing of the benefits of genetic resources.

The 2011-2020 Strategic Plan of this Convention contains 20 objectives including establishment  of a network of protected maritime regions with a special interest for biodiversity. This network must globally encompass 10% of all marine and coastal areas by 2020.

During the CBD summit in 2008, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity approved the criteria for the identification of ecologically and biologically important marine areas (the EBSAs or Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas).

The Marine Environment service of the FOD Public health, Food chain safety and Environment ensures that the marine biodiversity remains high on the agenda of the CBD both at European and at international levels. At the CBD summit of Nagoya (November 2010), the delegation of the Marine Environment service was actively involved in the drafting of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing that postulates an equitable and sustainable use of genetic resources including those in the sea and in launching a global database of ecological and biologically important marine areas.