"The decisions taken have the power to affect every single one of us," said IUCN Director General Achim Steiner in the end of the 3rd World Conservation Congress. This is particularly true - and of course of special interest to us - if one looks at those decisions focusing on sustainable use.

To recall the latest development: after an intense and lengthy participatory process, the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (AAPG) - to a large extent based on IUCN's Amman Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources - were finally adopted by the Parties to the CBD in February 2004. These AAPG in fact represent the latest state of the art on sustainable use of biodiversity. With this tangible tool to hand, the Parties to the Convention can better focus on keeping their commitment to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss.

The AAPG provide a framework for assisting stakeholders on all geographical (international, regional, national and local) levels, as well as institutional levels such as the UN System, Conventions, Governments, development agencies, local and indigenous communities, resource managers, the private sector and NGOs, on how to ensure that their uses of biodiversity will not lead to its long-term decline.

Governments should now strive to integrate the AAPG in the development or review of policies, national legislation and other regulations, sectoral and cross-sectoral plans and any programmes addressing uses of biodiversity. It is important to note that the AAPG also underline in which way ecosystems serve and maintain cultures, societies and communities. Governments and decision-makers are therefore called upon to consider the promotion of the AAPG as an instrument for safeguarding traditional societies and cultures. The Principles and Guidelines apply to any consumptive or non-consumptive use of biological diversity. Their application will naturally vary according to the resource being used, the conditions under which it is being used, as well as the institutional and cultural context in which such use is taking place.

Bridging the various geographical and institutional levels, the AAPG will also provide an excellent tool for different sectors to enhance sustainable use: i.e. forestry, wildlife, fisheries and tourism - just to name a few yet important. The AAPG are clearly of a cross-cutting nature and will serve the purpose of making many work programmes both under CBD, and between different MEAs, more coherent.

Already the Principles and Guidelines are seen as relevant to a wide range of sectors, as their incorporation into the CITES workplan, specifically into training and capacity building programmes, demonstrates. The wildlife sector may be an example of the implementation process bringing together stakeholders from different angles.

Example: Mountain biodiversity and wildlife management

CBD's programme of work on mountain biological diversity is a set of actions addressing characteristics and problems that are specific to mountain ecosystems. Parties to the CBD should implement the programme of work in the context of their national and sub-national priorities, and incorporate its actions into their national biodiversity strategies and action plans. Within the UN System, the FAO serves as lead agency on mountain development issues and has built up the International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions, known as the "Mountain Partnership". Another major international stakeholder is IUCN with its Inter-Commissional Mountains Initiative Task Force, merging expertise from various relevant Commissions, including SSC and its Caprinae and Sustainable Use SGs.

Taking the wildlife sector as an example, it is obvious that the AAPG provide a common base within the various and rarely linked programmes and initiatives to develop coherent approaches to sustainable wildlife use by, for example, designing programmes on sustainable hunting in mountain areas according to the Principles and Guidelines.

Example: regional agreements

On a regional scale, the AAPG can become a valuable tool for enhancing effectiveness of regional agreements.

Nowadays, regional conventions unfortunately do not receive the attention they require, but this is not justified, as such regional frameworks can fulfil the demanding task of adopting international environmental agreements to regional circumstances.

Such is the case for the newly-revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources ("African Convention"). This regional convention incorporates modern schemes of conservation that already form part of other conventions; it strengthens the role of sustainable use for conservation, while pointing out the need for countries to cooperate across borders, and finally calls for increased efforts in education and the involvement of indigenous peoples. All of this is of vital importance to the development in Africa - as well as an integral part of the AAPG. As the African Convention, however, lacks clear guidance on how best to meet the mentioned objectives, it could be the role of the AAPG to become such guiding tool. It is foreseeable that this Convention will be acknowledged internationally, as it can serve as an excellent example for other regions to follow.

Kai Wollscheid is Executive Director of International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) and a member of ESUSG/CASUSG. Email: k.wollscheid@cic-wildlife.org