Although the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force only in 1993, suggestions for a convention were already proposed in the year 1971. In November 1971 the report "Limits to Growth" was submitted by the OECD Industrial States "Club of Rome" The inventory of the world-economic situation of the OECD report sketched a disaster scenario of scarcity of raw materials, environmental pollution and recession. A chief characteristic attributed to this report is the fact it was not provided by environmentalists, but instead by experts of the OECD Industrial States and also the enormous public attention it obtained.
Nearly at the same time of the publication of the OECD report, on an initiative by the USA and Scandinavia, and through the Plenary Assembly of the United Nations, it was decided to organise a Conference over the human environment in Stockholm in the Summer 1972. In the same year the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with its seat in the Kenyan capital Nairobi was started. The Canadian, Maurice Strong, who led the environment conference in Stockholm and 20 years later provided guidance on the Earth Summit at Rio, was ordered to be the first Executive Director of UNEP. Later the former German Minister for the Environment, Dr. Klaus Toepfer led the UNEP and today Achim Stiener is head of UNEP.
In 1987, a further report was submitted, which again received a large response from the public. The Report of the World Commission for Environment and Development, provided under the guidance of the Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, underlined again the stated realisations of the OECD report from 1971. For the first time with the Report of the World Commission, the term "sustainable development" was introduced.
Overall the topic "environmental degradation" since the 1970's became more ingrained into the consciousness of the broader public. The topic made a break through in 1992 at the UN Summit on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.
Through this conference, the topic "environment & sustainable development" was set as a world-wide example, in order to ensure for the survival of mankind in a halfway intact environment. To make possible the implementation of this guidance, the majority of the participating states signed the Agenda 21 and different international agreements - the "Convention on Biological Diversity (United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity - CBD)"- that have a more or less binding character.
The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in Rio in 1992 by more than 150 states. It was entered into force on 29 December 1993 according to international law and ratified at the end of 2019 by 196 states and the European Union - including Germany.