Synergies between trade, biodiversity, and climate change in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

19 December 2013

The Second BioTrade Congress opened on 11 December, with a focus on the integration of biodiversity and climate change strategies in the Post 2015 Development Agenda.​

During the first session of the Congress high-level speakers acknowledged the significant contribution of biodiversity and ecosystems services as key inputs to a wide variety of goods and services, as well as to climate change mitigation and poverty eradication in rural areas.

The trade value of biodiversity-derived products in key industries illustrates the importance of biodiversity for the emergence of a green economy. Estimations by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat indicate that the natural ingredient driven cosmetic industry alone is worth $26 billion. Similarly, the natural beverage industry represents about $23 billion, the seed and crop industry $43 billion and botanicals sales approximately $85 billion. This success has been mostly driven by rising consumer awareness, interest and choices that take on board ethical, biodiversity-friendly and sustainability considerations when purchasing goods and services.

However, underlying causes of biodiversity loss such as over exploitation and habitat loss, deforestation and pollution remain mostly unaltered. "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", indicated Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD's Secretary General.

In this context, UNCTAD's BioTrade programme has emerged over the last 20 years as an approach that uses trade to promote income generation at the local level while contributing to biodiversity conservation. According to UNCTAD's Secretary General, Dr. Kituyi, "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". These figures show a significant increase in the commercial value of sustainable produced biodiversity-based products in both developed and developing country markets.

2nd Biotrade Congress
Welcoming Remarks by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary- General of UNCTAD (2nd BioTrade Congress, 11 December 2013)

More recently, "BioTrade is also becoming an instrument that contributes to climate change mitigation", indicated Hans-Peter Egler, Head of the Division for Trade Promotion at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Switzerland. At the beginning there were no climate change mechanisms that were very coherent with biodiversity. With the emergence of the REDD+ programmes - the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation climate change mitigation solution - and the exploratory work moving toward the convergence of BioTrade and climate change mitigation approaches, there are opportunities for dual benefits to the international community.

Mr. Hans-Peter Egler of SECO, said that Peru has been one of the leading examples on the evolution of BioTrade programmes where coherent regulations, support and capacity building programmes and stakeholder participation has generated practical results and the emergence of successful products.

Creating synergies between multiple layers of incentives may allow the conservation and restoration of ecosystems diversity while ensuring services they provide, such as carbon stocks, are maintained said Braulio Diaz, Executive Secretary of the CBD. This is becoming more evident with the introduction of REDD+ projects in secondary markets.

BioTrade has also become a vehicle to complement the implementation of global regulations regarding trade of endangered or potentially endangered animal and plant species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

"CITES does not promote or discourage trade, CITES is about the regulation of trade in listed species. Legal and sustainable collection, processing and trade of listed species such as vicuna, snakes, crocodile and the African cherry are supporting the livelihoods of local communities", indicated Mr. Scanlon, Secretary General of CITES.

Current joint efforts by UNCTAD and CITES to seek options for effective traceability systems for python skins are very practical and can have real effects in promoting legal, verifiable and sustainable trade and in ensuring the livelihoods of those closer to the natural resources.

Biodiversity is by nature multistakeholder. Working with different stakeholders has transaction costs when building incentives, but if regulations and efforts are properly aligned there will be sustainable outcomes.

The entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol in the near future will have a significant impact over access, benefit sharing and flows of biological and genetic resources and on the preservation of traditional knowledge held by local and indigenous communities.