The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, introduced a Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM), established by the Conference of the Parties (COP) in its first meeting "...to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation". The term "clearing-house" originated in the world of finance, is referred to any agency that brings together seekers and providers of goods, services or information, in order to match demand with supply.
The CHM is a tool designed to facilitate the access and sharing of information, the exchange of knowledge and the technical and scientific cooperation between the Parties to the Convention and the various partners; it is recognized to have a significant role in the effective implementation of the CBD.
The CHM has been made operating with the creation of three components:
- the CHM website of the CBD that acts as a central node;
- the network of national CHM;
- relevant partner organisations.
The Biosafety Clearing House (BCH), established under Article 20 (1) of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is part of the CHM of the CBD and through the central node of the BCH is a global mechanism for the exchange of information on biosafety between the Parties and all those involved in the assessment and management of the risk associated with living modified organisms and the public. The access to information about each Party is granted through the peripheral nodes.