Biodiversity, sometimes simply understood as "diversity of species", is a specific quality of life on our planet, the dimensions and importance of which have just lately been fully realized. Today we know that "biological diversity is a global asset of incalculable value to present and future generations" (Kofi Annan). Biodiversity is spread unequally over the world: in fact, the main share of biological resources worldwide is harboured predominantly by the so-called developing countries in the tropics and sub tropics. Therefore, Biodiversity - A Challenge for Development Research and Policy was chosen as the title for an international conference which was held in Bonn in 1997 as one of the first major events organized by the then newly established North-South Centre for Development Research (ZEF) at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat Bonn (Germany). Since the ZEF, founded by the Senate of the University of Bonn in 1995, has played a central role in turning Bonn into a centre for international cooperation and North-South dialogue. The Centre is a product of the Bonn Berlin agreement of July 1994 which was adopted to offset the effects caused by the Parliament and much of the Government moving to Berlin. It fits in well with the double strategy to strengthen Bonn's position as an interna tional science arena and as an eminent place for development policy and the national and supranational agencies dealing with this issue.