Multilateral environmental agreements

The science behind RSPB and BirdLife International engagement with international conventions.

Sunset over heathland at RSPB Arne nature reserve


For many years, RSPB and BirdLife International have been involved in advocacy for implementation and strengthening of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). MEAs are vital for underpinning international conservation efforts, but advocacy for them is most effective when it is based on evidence they deliver tangible benefits for the environment. Our involvement is therefore underpinned by sound science to test whether MEAs deliver effectively and where they could be improved.

The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science has provided scientific input to support RSPB’s and BirdLife’s advocacy on MEAs over many years and will continue to do so. We demonstrated the EU Nature Directives protect target bird species and allow the EU to meet its internationally agreed environmental (Aichi) targets, which supported the RSPB/BirdLife campaign to ensure that the EU Nature Directives were not weakened during their recent review. We also provide ongoing input into the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) process.


Support policy and advocacy on design and implementation of:
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • EU Nature Directives
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Other conventions and agreements

Key Dates

  • 2007 - one of the first demonstrations that an international conservation agreement (the EU Birds Directive) delivers benefits for target species (published in Science)
  • 2012 - quantification of need for increased spend to meet Targets 11 and 12 on CBD (published in Science)
  • 2015 - inadequacy of current 17 per cent target under target 11 of CBD for biodiversity conservation
  • 2016 - RSPB science supports successful campaign to protect and strengthen EU Nature Directives

Planned Work

  • National level progress to CBD targets.
  • Wider countryside benefits from site based elements of the EU Nature Directives in the UK to assess how birdlife might be affected by the UK leaving the EU and support policy work to ensure its continued protection.
  • Assessment of how well the Berne Convention performs in protecting target bird species in comparison to the EU Birds Directive.
  • Biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Goals.


  • CCI Collaborative Project Fund


Coast on a stormy day

Dr Fiona Sanderson

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Coast on a stormy day

Dr Graeme Buchanan

Head of International, Conservation Science
Tagged with: Country: England Country: Northern Ireland Country: Scotland Country: Wales Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Marine and intertidal Habitat: Upland Habitat: Urban and suburban Habitat: Wetland Habitat: Woodland Species: UK bird species Project status: Ongoing Project classification: Ongoing Project types: Research