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UNCTAD BioTrade Principles

UNCTAD, the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development, is a permanent intergovernmental body that deals with issues relating to economic and sustainable development, with a focus on trade, finance, investment and technology.

In 1996, UNCTAD launched the Opens external link in new windowBioTrade Initiative to support of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Since 2003, the BioTrade Initiative has also hosted the Opens external link in new windowBioTrade Facilitation Programme (BTFP), which complements the UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative’s activities.

To guide its work, UNCTAD created a conceptual framework, the so-called BioTrade Principles and Criteria, in collaboration with National BioTrade Programmes, relevant businesses and other partner

The BioTrade Principles are:

  1. Conservation of biodiversity
  2. Sustainable use of biodiversity
  3. Equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of biodiversity
  4. Socio-economic sustainability
  5. Compliance with national and international legislation and agreements 
  6. Respect for the rights of actors involved in BioTrade activities
  7. Clarity about land tenure, use, and access to natural resources and knowledge

The first three BioTrade Principles address the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, equitable benefit-sharing (principle 3) in BioTrade goes beyond the Nagoya Protocol and the utilization of genetic resources to include the use of biodiversity more generally.

To implement the BioTrade principles, UNCTAD adopted three different approaches, including:

  • the “value chain approach”, which involves actors from all parts of the value chain working together to achieve agreed goals.
  • the “adaptive management approach”, which allows for corrective measures to be adopted on the basis of ongoing monitoring of impacts.
  • the “ecosystem approach”, which takes a holistic approach to ecological and social issues and the interactions and processes that make up production systems.

BioTrade and Access and Benefit Sharing: From Concept to Practice. A Handbook for Poliymakers and Regulators