Kew’s work is shaped by important international conventions. Primarily, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Kew participated in the Convention on Biological Diversity – 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties 2010. Government representatives from 193 countries met in Nagoya, Japan – to discuss the conservation and management of the world’s biodiversity.
As the scope of scientific research evolves, experts at Kew have also become involved in activities associated with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Commission on Genetic Resources and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention and Policies group has the task of relating Kew’s work to the remit of these international frameworks.
Regulating trade in plants
Set up in 1973, CITES uses a permit system to monitor and regulate international trade in plants and animals that are threatened, or potentially threatened in the wild by such international trade. Trade in over 25,000 plant species is now regulated through CITES.
Plant species are assigned Appendix I, II or III status according to how vulnerable they are.
- appendix I bans international trade in wild specimens
- appendix II requires a CITES permit for international trade, which is only issued if trade will not be detrimental to the species’ survival
- appendix III listed species that can be traded subject to certain export conditions
Science for sustainable use
Each of the 175 signed-up countries has a management authority that issues permits, and a scientific authority that provides advice on sustainable trade and conducts research into species affected by trade.
Kew is the Scientific Authority for Plants for CITES in the UK. We help to build capacity to implement and enforce CITES by producing CITES User Guides which target key plant groups in trade and by training UK and overseas CITES staff.
Preserving plant diversity
The CBD is an international treaty and framework aimed at developing legal, policy and scientific initiatives on biological diversity. It was established at the international Earth Summit held in Rio de Janiero in 1992, along with two other important concentions:
The CBD came into force in 1993 and now 191 countries have signed up to it. The convention has three main objectives:
- to conserve biodiversity
- to use biological resources sustainably
- and to ensure that the benefits arising from genetic resources are shared equally
Promoting best practice
Kew works in partnership with institutions and governments in many countries, and advises the UK Government on CBD policy and practice.
To help botanists implement the CBD, Kew’s CBD unit developed a manual entitled The CBD for Botanists: An introduction to the Convention on Biological Diversity for people working with botanical collections.
This user-friendly manual is designed to guide botanical institutions on the CBD and how they can best implement its policies. The unit also recently compiled and distributed the Access and Benefit Sharing Bibliography and a guide to Kew’s role in implementing the GSPC.
Get involved - Adopt a Seed, Save a Species
We have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020.
Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Too often when we hear these kind of statistics there is little that we can do as individuals, but thanks to the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership and the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign there is something that you can do to ensure the survival of a plant species.
Scientific Research & Data
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
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Science & Conservation news
09 Dec 2013
Sarah Cody explains how gap analysis is helping our partners collect the seed of crop wild relatives (CWR) for a project called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change', run jointly by Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
05 Dec 2013
Kew's paper conservators Emma Le Cornu and Eleanor Hasler had to think big when treating a linocut of the Pagoda by Edward Bawden. Here they explain how this damaged artwork was returned to its former glory in the conservation studio.
08 Nov 2012
A new study from Kew suggests that Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years.
18 May 2010
Kew’s top propagation ‘code-breaker’, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, has cracked the enigma of growing a rare species of African waterlily. The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum) is believed to be the smallest waterlily in the world, with pads that can be as little as 1 cm in diameter.