Genetic diversity is considered important but interpreted narrowly in country reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity: Current actions and indicators are insufficient
International agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have committed to conserve, and sustainably and equitably use, biodiversity. The CBD is a vital instrument for global conservation because it guides 195 countries and the European Union in setting priorities and allocating resources, and requires regular reporting on progress. However, the CBD and similar policy agreements have often neglected genetic diversity.This is a critical gap because genetic diversity underlies adaptation to environmental change and ecosystem resilience. Here we aim to inform future policy, monitoring, and reporting efforts focused on limiting biodiversity loss by conducting the largest yet evaluation of how Parties to the CBD report on genetic diversity. A large, globally representative sample of 114 CBD National Reports was examined to assess reported actions, progress, values and indicators related to genetic diversity. Although the importance of genetic diversity is recognized by most Parties to the CBD, genetic diversity targets mainly addressed variation within crops and livestock (a small fraction of all species). Reported actions to conserve genetic diversity primarily concerned ex situ facilities and legislation, rather than monitoring and in situ intervention. The most commonly reported status indicators are not well correlated to maintaining genetic diversity. Lastly, few reports mentioned genetic monitoring using DNA data, indigenous use and knowledge of genetic diversity, or development of strategies to conserve genetic diversity. We make several recommendations for the post-2020 CBD Biodiversity Framework, and similar efforts such as IPBES, to improve awareness, assessment, and monitoring of genetic diversity, and facilitate consistent and complete reporting in the future.