This presentation is designed to explain the origins and basic contents of the CBD Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (AAPG), adopted by CoP7 in February 2004. The presentations which follow illustrate how the AAPG can be applied to a range of programmes and initiatives which were ongoing before the AAPG were formally adopted. The AAPG are listed at the end of this page with a link to the full text.

Use of wild animals and plants is fundamental to the human story. When conservation in its modern form began at the end of the 19th century, it was not seen as being in conflict with exploitation except in a few reserved areas. The potential conflict developed as human numbers grew rapidly and the technology for harvesting became ever more sophisticated. The main effort of conservation went into increasing the range of protected areas, but by the 1980's some realised that it was not feasible to go against the grain of human nature and human needs ad infinitum. So IUCN and others began to articulate the notion that use, if sustainable, can contribute both to human needs and to conservation objectives. It took until 2000 to refine and synthesise the ideas and case studies that gathered under the sustainable use umbrella into the IUCN Amman Policy Statement on the Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources. A key sentence in this reads "Use of wild living resources, if sustainable, is an important conservation tool because the social and economic benefits derived from such use provide incentives for people to conserve them."

Meanwhile the CBD, first signed in 1992, had sustainable use of biodiversity as one of its three objectives and an article (10) devoted to it, yet did not begin the process of defining relevant principles and guidelines until 2000, following endorsement of the Ecosystem Approach Principles, which contain much that is also relevant to sustainable use.

Fortunately the sustainable use process, though slow, was soundly based. The results of three regional workshops, (Maputo, Hanoi and Salinas) each with a focus on different ecosystems, were brought together in a global synthesis workshop in Addis in May 2003 which was open to all parties and interested NGOs. IUCN, through its Secretariat and SUSG members, played a creative and dedicated part in these meetings and what followed. A well-balanced set of principles and guidelines with substantial associated material was forwarded to SBSTTA 9 and then to CoP7 in Kuala Lumpur in February 2004. CoP7 adopted the Principles with only minor modifications to the Addis text and took a series of related decisions, which are discussed later in this set of presentations.

An overriding consideration is that the AAPG must be seen as being within, and fully consistent with, the Ecosystem Approach Principles, which in essence present a holistic approach to conservation.

The decision embodying the AAPG comprises 14 Principles, each with a rationale and some illustrative guidelines as to how to put it into practice. These are now all set out very clearly and with introductory material in a booklet produced by the CBD Secretariat, Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.

The Principles are about the HOW of sustainable use, i.e. they state that such use will be enhanced if the Principles and Guidelines are applied. The WHY (to promote conservation and to support livelihoods) is expressed elsewhere. The order of the Principles is not entirely logical but it may help to consider them in three groups:

  1. Governance and management
  2. Policy approaches (mostly economic) and
  3. Other issues.

Each Principle (P) is briefly presented under these headings:

Governance and Management

P1 calls for supportive policies, laws and institutions at all levels, P7 emphasises the need for the scale of management to relate to the scale of the use and its impact, while P8 stresses the need for international co-operation where decisions cross national boundaries or jurisdictions.

Within that framework P2 points out that local users must be empowered and have rights if they are to be accountable and responsible. In particular, according to P9, management and governance must be characterised by an inter-disciplinary and participatory approach, while an equitable distribution of benefits from use to local communities affected by it is called for by P12.

P4 requires adaptive management, based on local and scientific knowledge and feedback from monitoring the resource and its use in a social and economic context, which results in adjustments to the management regime.

Policy Approaches

P10 calls for policies which take account of current and potential values from use of biodiversity, of market forces and of non-economic values, while P3 repudiates those which distort markets, contribute to habitat degradation or otherwise generate perverse incentives and P13 encourages internalising the costs of management and conservation and reflecting them in the distribution of benefits.

Other Issues

Sustainable use regimes should minimize adverse impacts on ecosystem services (P5) and waste (P11). Education and public awareness (P14) and interdisciplinary research (P6) are necessary.

Finally it should be noted that the AAPG apply to consumptive and non-consumptive use and are intended to be of general relevance (i.e. to all sectors of use), but not all apply equally to all situations or apply with equal rigour.

An overall summary of the AAPG might read:
Sustainable use of biodiversity will be enhanced if there is:

  •     Supportive governance at the right scale
  •     Empowerment and accountability of local users
  •     Adaptive management
  •     Equitable sharing of benefits for local people
  •     International co-operation
  •     Public awareness and relevant research.

To put it even more succinctly we could say that sustainable use is about working with people rather than against them for the benefit of conservation and livelihoods.

1: Supportive policies, laws, and institutions are in place at all levels of governance and there are effective linkages between these levels.

2: Recognizing the need for a governing framework consistent with international/ national laws, local users of biodiversity components should be sufficiently empowered and supported by rights to be responsible and accountable for use of the resources concerned.

3: International, national policies, laws and regulations that distort markets which contribute to habitat degradation or otherwise generate perverse incentives that undermine conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, should be identified and removed or mitigated.

4: Adaptive management should be practiced, based on:
a. Science and traditional and local knowledge;
b. Iterative, timely and transparent feedback derived from monitoring the use, environmental, socio-economic impacts, and the status of the resource being used; and
c. Adjusting management based on timely feedback from monitoring procedures.

5: Sustainable use management goals and practices should avoid or minimize adverse impacts on ecosystem services, structure and functions as well as other components of ecosystems.

6: Interdisciplinary research into all aspects of the use and conservation of biological diversity should be promoted and supported.

7: The spatial and temporal scale of management should be compatible with the ecological and socio-economic scales of the use and its impact.

8: There should be arrangements for international cooperation where multinational decision-making and coordination are needed.

9: An interdisciplinary, participatory approach should be applied at the appropriate levels of management and governance related to the use.

10: International, national policies should take into account:
a. Current and potential values derived from the use of biological diversity;
b. Intrinsic and other non-economic values of biological diversity and
c. Market forces affecting the values and use.

11: Users of biodiversity components should seek to minimize waste and adverse environmental impact and optimize benefits from uses.

12: The needs of indigenous and local communities who live with and are affected by the use and conservation of biological diversity, along with their contributions to its conservation and sustainable use, should be reflected in the equitable distribution of the benefits from the use of those resources.

13: The costs of management and conservation of biological diversity should be internalized within the area of management and reflected in the distribution of the benefits from the use.

14: Education and public awareness programmes on conservation and sustainable use should be implemented and more effective methods of communications should be developed between and among stakeholders and managers.