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Users' Manual on the Biodiversity and Tourism Development Guidelines

CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development


International guidelines for activities related to sustainable tourism development in vulnerable terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems and habitats of major importance for biological diversity and protected areas, including fragile riparian and mountain ecosystems

A. Scope

B. The policy-making, development planning and management process

  1. Baseline information
  2. Vision and goals
  3. Objectives
  4. Legislation and control measures
  5. Impact assessment
  6. Impact management and mitigation
  7. Decision-making
  8. Implementation
  9. Monitoring and reporting
  10. Adaptive management

C. Notification process and information requirements

D. Education, capacity-building and awareness-raising

4. Legislation and control measures

30. Respect for existing national legislation and appropriate regulatory mechanisms and tools, such as land-use planning, protected area management plans, environmental assessment, building regulations and standards for sustainable tourism, are essential for the effective implementation of any overall vision, goals, and objectives. A review of legislation and control measures could consider, as appropriate, the legislation and control measures available for implementation of the overall vision, goals and objectives for tourism and biodiversity, their effectiveness, including enforcement, and any gaps that may need to be addressed for example, by revision of—or the development of additional—legislation and control measures.

31. The review of legislation and control measures may include, inter alia, assessment of the effectiveness of any provisions for resource management, access, and/or ownership by communities, especially indigenous and local communities in relation to tourism development or operations on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by them;; addressing legally established rights of indigenous and local communities; and enabling these groups to make decisions about tourism development and activities, amongst other forms of development and activities, in these areas.

32. Legislation and control measures considered could include measures for:

  1. Effective enforcement of existing laws, including the participation of all stakeholders;
  2. Approval and licensing processes for tourism development and activities;
  3. Controlling the planning, siting, design and construction of tourism facilities and infrastructures;
  4. Management of tourism in relation to biodiversity and ecosystems, including vulnerable areas;
  5. Application of environmental assessment, including assessment of cumulative impacts and effects on biodiversity, to all proposed tourism developments, and as a tool to develop policies and measure their impacts;
  6. Setting national standards and/or criteria for tourism that are consistent with overall national or regional plans for sustainable development and national biodiversity strategies and action plans:

    1. Environmental quality and land-use criteria in and around tourism sites;
    2. Development of a decision-making process with environmental and cultural sustainability guidelines for new and existing tourism development within the designated goals and objectives of the site’s different zones and within the limits of acceptable change;

  7. Integrated land-use management;
  8. Ensuring inter-linkages between tourism and cross-cutting issues, including agricultural development, coastal zone management, water resources, etc.;
  9. Mechanisms to resolve any inconsistencies between policy objectives and/or legislation in a manner that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders;
  10. Application of economic instruments, including tiered user fees, bonds, taxes or levies, for the management of tourism and biodiversity;
  11. Creating incentives for sustainable tourism development in line with the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21 through relevant economic mechanisms;
  12. Supporting private sector voluntary initiatives consistent with these Guidelines, such as certification schemes and providing opportunities for the private tourism sector to contribute to management initiatives through direct donations, in-kind services, and other voluntary initiatives consistent with these Guidelines, and relevant policies;
  13. Avoiding tourism development or activities outside those areas set out in the objectives;
  14. Monitoring, control of and provision of information on activities related to collection and trade of biological and related cultural resources within tourism sites.

33. Governments will normally coordinate this process at the national level. It is important to involve and consult with all relevant stakeholders, and especially indigenous and local communities that are or may be affected by tourism development, in the process for reviewing legislation and control measures, assessing their adequacy and effectiveness, and proposing development of new legislation and measures where necessary.

  1. (1)For the purposes of the present Guidelines "indigenous and local communities" means "indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity"
  2. (2) Monitoring at World Heritage sites should be designed to also incorporate the World Heritage criteria upon which the site was inscribed. The monitoring system should be designed to contribute to the World Heritage periodic reporting structure, aimed at gathering information on the state of conservation of the site

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme