The catalytic, electrocatalytic, or photocatalytic conversion of CO2 into useful chemicals in high yield for industrial applications has so far proven difficult. Herein, we present our work on the electrochemical reduction of CO2 in seawater using a boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrode under ambient conditions to produce formaldehyde. This method overcomes the usual limitation of the low yield of higher-order products, and also reduces the generation of H2. In comparison with other electrode materials, BDD electrodes have a wide potential window and high electrochemical stability, and, moreover, exhibit very high Faradaic efficiency (74 %) for the production of formaldehyde, using either methanol, aqueous NaCl, or seawater as the electrolyte. The high Faradaic efficiency is attributed to the sp3-bonded carbon of the BDD. Our results have wide ranging implications for the efficient and cost-effective conversion of CO2.