Environmental Conventions: List of Important Environment Conventions, Protocols

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Environmental conventions are agreements made by governments to take suitable action for mitigating environmental threats. In recent times, several governments have pledged their support to save the environment through environmental conventions and protocols. These conventions are generally held on a global level.

Environmental conventions help people to take collective action against global environmental threats. Here, we have shared the details about important conventions and protocols, which is one of the most important topics of UPSC and other competitive exams.

What are Environmental Conventions?

Environmental conventions are mutual agreements between governments to take action against environmental threats. These international conventions on environment are often legally binding and encourage nations to plan and take active action against issues that affect the environment negatively. Environment conventions can be held at national as well as global levels.

In fact, in recent years, there have been numerous international conventions on the environment to focus on global issues related to the environment. Global effort can help control the effects of global warming and protect the environment. Therefore, environmental conventions are important to raise the issue of environmental protection.

Important Environment Conventions

There are many environment conventions that are held on many different levels. However, some international conventions on the environment are globally regarded. The top sovereign nations of the world participate in these conventions. All the participating countries are expected to contribute to finding a solution to environmental problems. Here are some of the most important environmental conventions:

List of Environmental Conventions and Protocols

Here, we have shared the list of international conventions on the environment and their year of establishment. All of the conventions mentioned in the table have considerable importance, and you must know the fundamental essence of all of these conventions. Check out the list of environmental conventions below:

Name of the Convention Year of Establishment
Ramsar Convention 1971
CITES 1973
Bonn Convention 1979
Vienna Convention 1985
Montreal Protocol 1987
Basel Convention 1989
Convention on Biological Diversity 1992
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992
Rio Summit 1992
UNCCD 1994
Kyoto Protocol 1997
Rotterdam Convention 1998
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety 2000
Stockholm Convention 2001
UN-REDD 2008
Nagoya Protocol 2010
Minamata Convention 2013
COP 21 2016
Kigali Amendment 2016
COP 24 2018
COP 25 2019

International Conventions on Environment

Several international conventions on environment are held on a routine basis to amplify the message of environment conservation and protection. Here are some of the major environmental conventions held on an international level:

  • Kyoto Protocol (1997)
  • Paris Agreement (2015)
  • UNFCCC Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992)
  • Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1985)
  • Ramsar Convention

Environmental Conventions – Details

There are several environmental conventions that you should know about, and some of them are listed below for your reference:

Ramsar Convention

The Ramsar Convention is a wetlands convention signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. Negotiations for the convention began in the 1960s between various governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to protect wetlands and their resources. It was finally implemented in 1975. In India, there are 42 Ramsar Sites designated under the Ramsar Convention.

Stockholm Convention

The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty signed in 2001 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries and entered into force on 17th May 2004. This environmental convention was created to protect humans from dangerous POPs suspended in the air for an extended time. Through active steps taken by member nations, the convention strives to minimize or eliminate the use of POPs.


CITES is the acronym for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES is an international treaty between states to protect the planet’s plants and animals by assuring that international trading in their specimens does not jeopardize their survival. It was enacted in 1963 and became effective in 1975.

Convention on Biological Diversity

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) is a United Nations treaty in charge of Biological Diversity conservation worldwide. The UNCBD is an essential aspect of international environmental conventions and protocols, notably those dealing with the environment, ecology, biodiversity, and the IAS Exam’s international relations sections.

The International Relations section of the UPSC Syllabus of General Studies paper 2 includes a lot of international organizations and groups. International relations UPSC is a very dynamic section of the syllabus, and it is crucial for several papers in both the Prelims and Mains. Students studying for the UPSC and other government exams should be familiar with the topic.

Bonn Convention

The Bonn Convention was established to safeguard wild animal migratory species and habitats. It is the sole worldwide environment convention on migratory species, and it operates under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme. The convention includes legally binding agreements and non-binding Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) suited to conservation needs.

Vienna Convention

In 1988, the Vienna Convention went into effect, and by 2009, it had been ratified by all countries. The convention is known as the Ozone Layer Protection Treaty. The Vienna Convention is an essential topic for the IAS Exam because it was the 35th anniversary of the convention on 16th September.

Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol agreement came into the picture to deal with substances known to deplete the ozone layer. The environmental protocol regulates any consumption, emission, and production of substances that deplete the ozone layer.

Need for Environmental Conventions

The primary need for environmental conventions is that they can help send a global message for environment conservation. It motivates world leaders to take collective action on targeted issues. Here are some other reasons why we need environmental protocols:

  • Global environmental conventions create meaningful partnerships among world governments that allow for cost-effective ways of reducing negative environmental impacts.
  • Environment conventions offer equal standards and legislation for all to promote harmony and discourage competitiveness at the cost of environmental health.
  • Discussing environmental issues on a global level can help identify underlying issues and bring them to the mainstream.
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