Biosphere Ethics Initiative

IUCN Members are invited to discover the work of the Biosphere Ethics Initiative and to get involved with their programme to incorporate principles of environmental ethics into specific conservation action.

Platymantis vitiensis, Fiji Tree Frog.

The Biosphere Ethics Initiative (BEI) originated in 2004 from Resolution 3.020, Drafting a Code of Ethics for Biodiversity Conservation, presented and adopted at the IUCN Bangkok World Conservation Congress in 2004. The Ethics Specialist Group (ESG) of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (CEL and the Center for Humans and Nature, a U.S.‐based non‐profit organization and IUCN Member, has been leading the BEI effort since its inception, with help from over 60 cross‐disciplinary, government and non‐government partner organizations.

The overarching goal of the BEI is to develop and advance a living soft law programme of practical conservation ethics, with foundational principles applicable to everyone, yet workable to be region‐specific. It seeks and highlights the evolving ethics of biodiversity conservation as experienced through communities of practice and, through them, promotes ethically responsible action.

Since 2005, the BEI has held four formal Relatos and several development workshops, including the Chicago Wilderness Relato (2007); the South African National Parks Relato (2008); Brazil’s Local Agendas 21 Relato (2009) and the Yunnan Province of China Relato (2009). Relatos are mutual learning experiences between members of the BEI and a particular local, regional, national or global initiative. The work of these programmes informs the living BEI, and the BEI provides feedback to their ethical questions.

The BEI is comprised of three main elements:
1. The evolving Biosphere Ethic, or concise document stating the nature of the initiative and the values learned from our workshops. This was launched at the Paris Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle in February 2010 before IUCN Director General Julia Marton‐Lèfevre, IUCN President Ashok Khosla, CEL Chair Sheila Abed, the French Directeur général de l'aménagement, du logement et de la nature, Jean‐Marc Michel and the IUCN French National Committee who drafted the aforementioned resolution.

2. The Action Plan, or a methodology for implementation with practical deliverables (e.g. target/raise the ethical concerns of the IUCN Program; target/raise the ethical concerns of the Agenda of the Convention on Biological Diversity; incorporate the BEI into National Biodiversity Strategies); and

3. The Annex, giving the history and philosophy of the initiative, as well as the living examples of good action, or the BEI Relatos. An important aspect of the work is to also implement the BEI at the local level and to highlight local conservation ethics specific to that area. This first implementation will take place in September 2010 in the Indiana Dunes region of the United States.

The documents will be made available on Click here for additional information.

For further information and membership, please contact Kathryn Kintzele, Co-Chair of the Biosphere Ethics Initiative:

The Biosphere Ethics Initiative Co‐Chairs are:
(1) Dr. Patrick Blandin, Professeur, Le département Hommes, natures, sociétés, Paris muséum d’Histoire naturelle (Paris, France)
(2) Kathryn Kintzele, Esq., Director, North American Global Responsibilities Program, Center for Humans and Nature (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
(3) Karla Monteiro Matos, Diretora, Departamento de Cidadania e Responsabilidade Socioambiental, Ministério do Meio Ambiente (Brasilia, Brasil)
(4) Dr. Razeena Omar, Chief Director, Integrated Coastal Management and Development, Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (Cape Town, South Africa)


Work area: 
South America
North America
East and Southern Africa
West and Central Africa
West Asia
Go to top