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Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Development Cooperation

At COP13 held in Mexico in December 2016, the Conference of Parties adopted decision XIII/3 calling for Parties and other stakeholders to mainstream biodiversity in the four sectors that are directly dependent on biodiversity: agriculture, forests, fisheries and tourism. Furthermore, at COP14 held in Egypt in November 2018, the Conference of the Parties adopted decision XIV/3 calling on Parties and other stakeholders to mainstream biodiversity in the sectors of energy and mining, infrastructure, and manufacturing and processing.

What is biodiversity mainstreaming?

The mainstreaming of biodiversity can be defined as integrating or including actions related to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at every stage of the policy, plan, programme and project cycle, regardless whether international organizations, businesses or governments lead the process.

The objective of mainstreaming biodiversity is to help reduce the negative impacts that productive sectors, development investments and other human activities exert on biodiversity, by highlighting the contribution of biodiversity to socioeconomic development and human well being. This requires enhanced collaboration with development sectors and actors.

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How can biodiversity be mainstreamed?

NBSAPS: One of the entry points for mainstreaming of biodiversity is the use of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) as a policy instrument to embed biodiversity priorities into national development and poverty reduction strategies; and vice versa, to integrate development priorities in national biodiversity strategies.

National Reporting: CBD's national reporting guidelines invite Parties to report on the extent to which biodiversity has been integrated into sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies and plans. Parties that are donor countries of development cooperation are requested to provide information on how biodiversity has been taken into account in programmes of official development assistance (ODA), scientific and technical cooperation and technology transfer.

For more information on possible actions for mainstreaming biodiversity, see:

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Development coupled with biodiversity

Biodiversity mainstreaming is the main methodology for integrating biodiversity considerations into development processes at large. It can be done at multiple levels and on very different scales.

In essence, and in its broadest sense, the concept relates to the inclusion of biodiversity considerations in spheres that are not traditionally accustomed to account for biodiversity in their daily activities. Observations confirm that policies and programmes that ignore considerations for biodiversity are harmful to human development.

The idea of biodiversity mainstreaming is to have biodiversity principles included at every stage of the planning of projects, and this, whether international organizations, businesses or governments lead the projects. All in all, in theory, it could encompass the inclusion of biodiversity considerations into all human activities.

The overall goal of biodiversity mainstreaming is to help reduce the negative impacts that productive sectors exert on biodiversity, particularly outside of protected areas, and highlight the contribution of biodiversity to economic development and human well being, through enhanced collaboration with development sectors and actors.

A 2005 GEF Working Paper defines biodiversity mainstreaming in a more focused manner: “Mainstreaming biodiversity involves the integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use principles into policies, plans, programs, and production systems where the primary focus has previously been on production, economic activity, and development, rather than on biodiversity conservation losses or gains” (GEF Working Paper 20, Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes (PDF), November 2005, p. 2).

Biodiversity mainstreaming in development processes is not a new concept. In fact, development coupled with environmental protection is key to sustainability itself. Article 6 (b) of the CBD calls Parties to “integrate, as far as possible and as appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies”.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme