International Environmental Agreements

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The key international environmental agreements relevant to the application of EIA are listed below. They are divided into two broad categories (the so-called green and brown lists). Emphasis is given to those agreements that apply worldwide and primarily cover issues related to the management of the ‘global commons’ or transboundary environmental impacts, which can be addressed only if countries adopt commonly agreed principles and rules of action.

Agreements related to the Conservation of Nature and Biological Diversity (the Green List)

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro 1992, entered into force in 1993) promotes conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of its components.
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Washington 1973, entered into force in 1975) prohibits or regulates commercial trade of listed species.
  • Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially in Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar 1971, entered into force 1973) aims to prevent loss and encourage wise use of wetlands. Signatory Countries are required to designate at least one site to the Ramsar list.

Agreements related to the Control and Prevention of Pollution (the Brown List)

  • Framework Convention on Climate Change (New York 1992, entered into force 1994) aims to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent ‘dangerous interference with climate’.
  • Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (Vienna 1985, entered into force 1998) including the Protocol on Substances that Deplete the ozone layer (Montreal 1995) aims to reduce and eliminate emissions of specified ozone-depleting substances and control other harmful activities.
  • Convention on Control of Transbounday Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel 1989, entered into force in 1992) aims to control and reduce transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, and assist developing countries in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.


  • World Bank (1996) International Agreements on Environment and Natural Resources: Relevance and Application in Environmental Assessment. Environmental Assessment Sourcebook Update No. 10. World Bank, Washington, D.C.