unctad.org | 2nd BioTrade Congress: ‘Integrating REDD+ in BioTrade strategies’
Statement by Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD
2nd BioTrade Congress: ‘Integrating REDD+ in BioTrade strategies’
Geneva, Switzerland
11 Dec 2013


Opening statement by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD


Mr. John Scanlon, Secretary-General, CITES Secretariat,
Mr. Braulia Diaz, Executive Secretary, CBD Secretariat,
Mr. Hans-Peter Egler, Head of Trade Promotion, State Secretariat for Economic Cooperation (SECO), Switzerland
Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to warmly welcome all of you to this Second BioTrade Congress, which will focus on how best to integrate climate change mitigation efforts, and particularly the REDD+ mechanism in BioTrade Strategies.

The conservation and responsible management of biodiversity is essential to meeting the needs of humankind, today and tomorrow, and to sustaining our common planet. Biodiversity, ecosystems, species, and genetic resources are a source of food, medicines, fresh water, productive soils and clean air. According to the CBD Secretariat, some 70% of the world's poor in rural areas directly depend on such resources to cover 90% of their needs. Indeed, around 1.6 billion people depend on forest and non-timber forest products for their livelihoods, and more than 3 billion people depend on coastal and marine biodiversity. Beyond its direct role in livelihoods, biodiversity is also valued and used by societies for cultural, spiritual, and religious purposes.

Furthermore, the sustainable transformation of biodiversity resources into tradable goods and services can prove a valuable platform for economic development. For example, global demand for natural and organic cosmetic and personal care products is growing significantly, particularly for sustainably sourced natural ingredients. The Indonesian Cosmetic Association has estimated that the major markets for these products have grown by over 11% between 2009 and 2010, and are expected to reach $6.7 billion in the United States; $5.6 billion in Brazil; $8.2 billion in Europe; and $16.2 billion in Asia in 2015.

Of course, great care needs to be taken to ensure that our usage does not deplete biodiversity, so as to ensure that its benefits can be enjoyed across generations. Today, biodiversity is greatly threatened by human activity due to over exploitation and habitat loss, such as from hunting, deforestation, fishing, and pollution, as well as the negative effects of climate change. Thus, biodiversity loss must be addressed and prevented, and the use of biodiversity-based resources must be managed in a sustainable, equitable and inclusive manner. This must also be a key concern in the formulation of the post 2015 UN development agenda and sustainable development goals.

Against this background, UNCTAD launched and implemented its BioTrade Initiative in 1996. This programme aims to help developing countries achieve the dual objectives of biodiversity conservation and improved economic and social welfare. It does so by linking the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on the one hand, and the trade of its derived products and services on the other. Through close cooperation with national, regional and international partners, BioTrade has generated benefits in 21 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. For example:

  • BioTrade activities have benefited approximately 30,000 collectors, breeders, hunters and producers, creating jobs, generating additional income opportunities for rural and marginal communities as well as other actors in the value chain.

  • More than 19 million hectares of land are sustainably managed by beneficiary organizations working in BioTrade, promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

  • Sales revenues of BioTrade beneficiary organizations, working with SMEs and multinational companies, amounted to US$ 4.1 billion in 2011, showing a 76% growth rate from 2010.

With the help of the BioTrade initiative, beneficiary countries can capture trade and investment opportunities arising from sustainably produced biodiversity-based products and services, and diversify their economies and exports into a wide variety of sectors such as food, personal care, pharmaceutical/traditional medicine and fashion industries, sustainable agriculture, flowers and foliage, fibers and handicrafts, and sustainable tourism. Indeed, the report of the United Nations Secretary-General to the 68th Session of the General Assembly on "Mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system" recognized the important contribution of the BioTrade Initiative.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The focus of this meeting will be how best to integrate climate change mitigation measures into Biotrade activities. It is clear that our efforts to conserve biodiversity and promote its sustainable use for economic development must also take into account the need to mitigate climate change.

In particular, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) introduced targeted measures such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which now includes "conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks" (REDD+). These measures offer financial incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to foster sustainable development. Furthermore, the United Nations Climate Change Conference held last month in Warsaw agreed on the Warsaw Framework for REDD+, which provides a package of measures designed to contribute both to climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. In addition, US$ 280 million was pledged by Norway, United Kingdom and United States to support REDD+ activities.

With the introduction of such REDD+ measures and funding, developing countries have an opportunity to integrate biodiversity conservation activities into climate-friendly policies, thereby strengthening local sustainable economic activities in forest areas. Combining REDD+ and BioTrade promises the dual benefit of carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation. Indeed, it can create two significant revenue streams for local communities that commercialize carbon credits and BioTrade products and services. According to Forest Trends, in 2012 buyers committed more than US$ 523 million to offset 101 million metric tons of greenhouse gas.

To assist developing countries in taking advantage of such opportunities, UNCTAD, together with Forest Alive and international experts, is now developing a step-by-step training manual that provides guidance for accessing REDD+ and BioTrade projects. We are also engaged in discussions on how to coordinate joint efforts to take up emerging opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we will hear from a number of stakeholders about their experiences with BioTrade and related efforts to integrate climate change mitigation. Among others, these include the Ministries of Environment of Colombia and Peru, the BioTrade programmes in the Andean Region and Viet Nam, PhytoTrade Africa, Forest Alive, the Union for Ethical BioTrade, and the CITES Secretariat and Management Authority of Switzerland, various TNCs as well as experts from Brazil, Ecuador and the Pacific. I would like to thank you all for your participation in this congress and your support to the work we are undertaking.

Finally, I would like to express UNCTAD's deep appreciation for the continued support of our BioTrade Initiative by Switzerland through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Thank you all and I wish you fruitful discussions during the next three days.


Please wait....