International biodiversity policy

Finland has long been participating in international cooperation on nature conservation, and is also bound by several international agreements whose aim is to protect biodiversity.

Convention on Biological Diversity

Finland was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the most important agreement protecting biodiversity. The agreement, ratified by 196 parties including the European Union, entered into force in 1993.

The convention aims at protecting the plant and animal species of different ecosystems, sustainable use of natural resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources.Biodiversity is safeguarded by means of measures which increase the value of the original nature, species and their genetic genetic resources.

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) are key means for implementing the convention.

Conferences of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity are held every two years. The latest was held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2018.

Protocols adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity include:

The funding mechanism of the Convention and the Protocols is the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Montreal Biodiversity Conference COP15

The fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) will be held in Montreal, Canada on 7.-19. December 2022. The first part of the Conference took place in October 2021.

Countries all over the world are now negotiating a new global framework to halt the loss of biodiversity. The framework establishes the key goals and targets that can be measured to protect and restore biodiversity. The aim is to achieve a net positive impact, i.e. that human actions produce more benefits than harm to biodiversity, society and the economy.

Species protection agreements

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) aims to protect wild animals and plants by monitoring their trade. The convention covers species that have been found to be endangered or at risk of becoming endangered owing to subjection to international trade.

Finland signed the Convention in 1976. The EU has issued its own legislation implementing the CITES Convention.

Bern Convention

The Bern Convention is a European nature conservation convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats) that covers the protection of European wild flora and fauna and their habitats. The convention provides the basis for the related European Union legislation (the Natura 2000 network and the Habitat and Birds Directives).

  • The Bern Convention, (29/1986) (Finlex, in Finnish)

Bonn Convention

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the Bonn Convention) aims to protect the populations of migratory wild animals. Finland ratified the Convention in 1988.

The Convention seeks to implement its objectives in two ways:

1. by implementing strict measures in order to protect the species listed in Appendix I and

2. by implementing region-specific agreements in order to protect the species listed in Appendix II.

In the latter category, Finland has ratified the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS), the African-Eurasian Migratory Water Bird Agreement (AEWA) and the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS).

ASCOBANS (the Agreement on Conservation of Small Cetaceans in Baltic Sea, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) was ratified by Finland in 1999. The Convention was amended in 2008 to also cover the Irish and North-East Atlantic Seas.

EUROBATS (the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats) is a regional agreement protecting European bats and their habitats. All eleven bat species found in Finland are included in the agreement. The Agreement entered into force in Finland in 1999 (SopS 104/1999).

AEWA (the African-Eurasian Migratory Water Bird Agreement) entered into force in Finland in 2000 (SopS 9/2000). The Agreement aims to promote the protection of water birds and their habitats during wintering and migration periods in their resting and nesting areas. The birds referred to in the Agreement and found in Finland are protected under the Nature Conservation Act, with the exception of some water birds protected under the Hunting Act.

The Ramsar Convention aims to protect internationally important wetlands and water birds. Wetlands under the convention are considered to be seas and coastal areas, mires, traditional biotopes, inland flooded forests and built wetlands. The Convention requires the registration of specific Ramsar Sites. Finland ratified the Convention in 1974.

The purpose of the Whaling Convention is to protect whale populations and to regulate whaling. Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission. Today, the Commission only grants hunting quotas for indigenous peoples. Finland ratified the Convention in 1983.

  • The decree implementing the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (9/1983) (Finlex)

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO's World Heritage Convention). The Convention aims to provide an international and national system for protecting and maintaining the most valuable part of cultural and natural environment as humankind's shared heritage. UNESCO maintains a World Heritage List, adding new sites annually.

Landscape Convention

The general objectives of landscape maintenance and conservation are laid down in the European Landscape Convention which entered into force in Finland in 2006.

Further information

Marina von Weissenberg, Senior Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Department of the Natural Environment, Biodiversity Environment Council  Telephone:0295250321   Email Address: