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Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines

The Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable use of Biodiversity consist of fourteen interdependent practical principles, operational guidelines and a few instruments for their implementation that govern the uses of components of biodiversity to ensure the sustainability of such uses. The principles provide a framework to assist Governments, resource managers, indigenous and local communities, the private sector and other stakeholders on how to ensure that their use of the components of biodiversity will not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity. The principles are intended to be of general relevance, although not all principles will apply equally to all situations, nor will they apply with equal rigour. Their application will vary according to the biodiversity being used, the conditions under which they are being used, and the institutional and cultural context in which the use is taking place.

Click on each principle to see the full text of the principle, its rationale and operational guidance for the sustainable use of biodiversity.

Sustainability of use of biodiversity components will be enhanced if the following practical principles and related operational guidelines are applied:

Practical principle 1 Supportive policies, laws, and institutions are in place at all levels of governance and there are effective linkages between these levels.
Practical principle 2 Recognizing the need for a governing framework consistent with international(1) national laws, local users of biodiversity components should be sufficiently empowered and supported by rights to be responsible and accountable for use of the resources concerned.
Practical principle 3 International, national policies, laws and regulations that distort markets which contribute to habitat degradation or otherwise generate perverse incentives that undermine conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, should be identified and removed or mitigated.
Practical principle 4 Adaptive management should be practiced, based on:
  1. Science and traditional and local knowledge;
  2. Iterative, timely and transparent feedback derived from monitoring the use, environmental, socio-economic impacts, and the status of the resource being used; and
  3. Adjusting management based on timely feedback from the monitoring procedures.
Practical principle 5 Sustainable use management goals and practices should avoid or minimize adverse impacts on ecosystem services, structure and functions as well as other components of ecosystems.
Practical principle 6 Interdisciplinary research into all aspects of the use and conservation of biological diversity should be promoted and supported.
Practical principle 7 The spatial and temporal scale of management should be compatible with the ecological and socio-economic scales of the use and its impact.
Practical principle 8 There should be arrangements for international cooperation where multinational decision-making and coordination are needed.
Practical principle 9 An interdisciplinary, participatory approach should be applied at the appropriate levels of management and governance related to the use.
Practical principle 10 International, national policies should take into account:
  1. Current and potential values derived from the use of biological diversity;
  2. Intrinsic and other non-economic values of biological diversity and
  3. Market forces affecting the values and use.
Practical principle 11 Users of biodiversity components should seek to minimize waste and adverse environmental impact and optimize benefits from uses.
Practical principle 12 The needs of indigenous and local communities who live with and are affected by the use and conservation of biological diversity, along with their contributions to its conservation and sustainable use, should be reflected in the equitable distribution of the benefits from the use of those resources.
Practical principle 13 The costs of management and conservation of biological diversity should be internalized within the area of management and reflected in the distribution of the benefits from the use.
Practical principle 14 Education and public awareness programmes on conservation and sustainable use should be implemented and more effective methods of communications should be developed between and among stakeholders and managers.


(1)Where consistency with international law is referred to this recognizes: a) that there are cases where a country will not be a party to a specific international convention and accordingly that law will not apply directly to them; and b) that from time to time countries are not able to achieve full compliance with the conventions to which they are a party and may need assistance.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme