BioTrade Principles and Criteria

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) BioTrade Initiative aims to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through the promotion of trade and investment in biodiversity-based products and services. BioTrade is defined as the collection, production, transformation, and commercialization of biodiversity-based goods and services that meet specific sustainability criteria. These criteria are known as the BioTrade Principles and Criteria (P&C), are the core foundation that guide the activities of the BioTrade Initiative, the BioTrade national programmes and other related activities since their inception.

Since 2007, the BioTrade P&C have been defined by the UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative and the BioTrade national programmes and provide the core of the conceptual framework underlying the BioTrade Initiative's activities. They are in line with the objectives and principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity and also support the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

The BioTrade P&C are applied in different contexts, from assessing social, economic and environmental impacts of a project and guiding elements to be included in a policy, to evaluating supply chains for financial or market initiatives and verifying good practices. As a result, the BioTrade P&C lays out the general guidance which can be and has been adapted for specific applications.  They can also be applied both at the institutional (i.e. national programmes) and supply-chain actors’ level (i.e. business or producer association).




The BioTrade P&C are periodically updated to reflect evolving legal and policy frameworks and growing experiences and lessons learnt among BioTrade partners. Currently the UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative is coordinating a revision of the BioTrade P&C in consultation with partners and stakeholders under the Global BioTrade Programme "Linking trade, biodiversity and sustainable development" funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO which started in May 2018.
This draft version, currently under consultation, is based on the principles and criteria as defined in the 2007 BioTrade verification framework. Changes that will be made will respond to comments received in various consultation processes. They will also respond to the experiences through practitioners gathered through implementing the BioTrade P&C and their relevance in a growing number of contexts, including terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.
The revised BioTrade P&C will also reflect recent developments in international law and policy. For example, in 2010, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits derived from their Utilization was adopted under the aegis of the CBD (herein after referred to as “Nagoya Protocol”). In 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was also adopted in 2015.
Under this context, UNCTAD launched a consultation during 1 November – 9 December 2019 to receive further inputs from BioTrade partners and. All inputs that have been sent will be compiled and incorporated in the final version which will be prepared by UNCTAD. UNCTAD will then present the process and the final version of the updated UNCTAD BioTrade P&C at the third Stakeholders Steering Committee meeting of the Global BioTrade Programme (Spring 2020). The updated version will also be published as well as be jointly uploaded online in the Sustainability Map platform of the International Trade Centre (ITC).


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