At its seventh meeting in February 2004, the Conference of the Parties adopted the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity and related recommendations (annex to decision VII/12 on Sustainable Use). The Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines (AAPG) for the Sustainable use of Biodiversity consist of fourteen interdependent practical principles and related operational guidelines that should 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 Seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties also identified some of the first steps to be carried out by Governments and other organizations to assist with the implementation of the AAPG, and invited them to integrate and mainstream the principles into a range of measures including policies, programmes and national legislation that regulate the use of biodiversity. Requests were made to the Secretariat to ensure that more work and studies are undertaken to facilitate the implementation of the principles, in particular by further exploring issues such as the use of terms for sustainable use, adaptive management, indicators and sustainable use, ecosystem service assessment and the costs and benefits associated with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to organize a series of training workshops that would assist with the implementation of the principles.

These requests made by the CoP7 could be synthesized through this series of actions verbs, as follows:

  1. Integrate and Mainstream: Parties are invited to integrate and mainstream the AAPG into a range of measures including policies, programmes, national legislation and other regulations (paragraph 2(a)).
  2. Clarify and Consolidate: The Executive Secretary is requested to further work on issues pertaining to the use of terms for sustainable use (paragraph 5).
  3. Research and Explore: Parties are invited to undertake research on a number of issues and analyze case-studies and existing literature on sustainable use consistent with practical principle 6 of the AAPG (paragraph 6).
  4. Collect and Share: The Executive Secretary is invited to collect information and experiences on successful efforts (paragraph 4) and disseminate information through the clearing-house mechanism (paragraph 2(b)).
  5. Train: The Executive Secretary is requested to organize a series of four workshops on ecosystem services assessment, financial costs and benefits associated with conservation of biodiversity, and sustainable use of biological resources (paragraph 5).
  6. Assist: Parties and the private sector are invited to develop and transfer technologies and provide financial support for the implementation of the AAPG (paragraph 8).

As the focus of the Convention shifts from policy development to its implementation, decision VII/12 of the Conference of the Parties plays an essential role in guiding the process towards putting the AAPG into operation.

The Principles and Guidelines are based on the assumption that indeed it is possible to use biodiversity components in a manner in which ecological processes, species and genetic variability remain above thresholds needed for long-term viability, and thus all resource managers and users have the responsibility to ensure that that use does not exceed these capacities. It is therefore crucial that the biodiversity in ecosystems is maintained, or in some cases recovered, to ensure that those ecosystems are capable of sustaining the ecological services on which both biodiversity and people depend.

In this context, the Guidelines are yet another tangible tool in keeping with the commitment of Parties to the Convention to focus on its practical implementation and the target to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss, which is at the heart of the Convention's strategic plan.

Paola Deda works for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity: E-mail paola.deda@biodiv.org