The UN & BioTrade

International efforts to promote sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

In 1992, world leaders gathered for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Following this the CBD was signed by 150 government leaders at the event to promote conservation and sustainable development.

The CBD is now the main body responsible for advancing the conservation of biodiversity and for promoting the principles and criteria of Ethical BioTrade. To support the efforts of UEBT, the CBD and UEBT signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2008, to encourage companies involved in BioTrade to adopt and promote good practices.

UNCTAD promotes the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. In 1996, UNCTAD began to support developing countries to take better advantage of their biodiversity, considering that sustainable use of biodiversity is fundamental for long-term sustainable development of developing countries. To this end, UNCTAD created the BioTrade Initiative in 1996 to support sustainable development through trade and investment in biodiversity.

The BioTrade activities are framed within the global conservation and development objectives established by the CBD, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Together with developing country actors, UNCTAD elaborated guiding principles and criteria for BioTrade that now form the basis of the Union’s verification framework.

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.

Due to the nature of the CITES convention and the dependency of the private sector on natural resources, companies involved in BioTrade must be aware of the implications of the convention. CITES and UEBT work together to facilitate sustainable use of CITES listed species by business.