Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Biodiversity and Access to Sustainable Development

Opinion article by: Marcela Marin Mira* (mmarin@eafit.edu.co ) 
International Business student at Universidad EAFIT, Colombia

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - UNCTAD's Division on International Trade and Commodities, which seeks the promotion of inclusive and sustainable development in international trade, launched the BioTrade Initiative in 1996. This Initiative, being the longest running United Nations initiative on business and biodiversity, has focused its efforts on supporting the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and has developed programs for different regions and countries to enhance the sustainable bio-resources management, product development, value adding processing and marketing.

As stated by the CBD, “Biodiversity is the source of many products and services utilized by society and its sustainable use is thus fundamental for long-term sustainable development”, and that is why it is of great importance to work on the integration of groups of businesses and communities, governments, universities, trade promotion organizations, chamber of commerce and regional and international organizations in order to meet the BioTrade Target, achieving a significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss, as this goal has failed to be achieved in the past without counting on effective and rapid responses.

Leading BioTrade to businesses is not only about ensuring the conservation of the environment but also mitigating the negative impacts on the populations, particularly those disadvantaged populations into the world economy.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA - initiated in 2001) that has the goal of assessing the current condition and trends in the ecosystems and the services they provide (such as food, clean water, forest products, flood control and natural resources) to give options looking forward its restoration, conservation, sustainable usage and contribution to human well-being has conclude, in one of its reports, that 60% of the world’s ecosystems are degraded or unsustainably used and are directly impacting the livelihoods of the populations that depend on these resources.

The above reasons have moved many countries to implement sustainable management plans and legal frameworks. To mention we have Bolivia which has succeed by using the basis of a land-use planning model in cooperation with the European Commission that promotes sustainable development, protecting the rights of indigenous peoples living in affected areas. In Southern Africa, the concentration on the development of products derived from native biodiversity has benefited many producers. In the Peruvian Amazon, a big amount of rural families participate in the extraction of Camu-camu (native tree). In Namibia, Marula to harvest trees is very easy and is a means of opportunity for rural women.

On the other hand, we have the formulation and implementation of policies such as the EU Novel Foods Regulation that ensures a high level of human health and consumers’ protection.

After the Second World War the human-being started to think the environment as an important issue for an integral development, but it was in the period from 1972 to 1992 where this concern had the greatest expansion, because the countries around the world began to consider it as part of a juridical framework. After 1992, when the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (includes 27 environmental principles) took place, we have noticed some advancement on this matter, but not as influential as it should be in the International Law.

Unless biodiversity is still an emerging trend, it is expected to accelerate in the years to come, because producers and consumers are, increasingly, understanding what biodiversity is and valuing its importance.


CBD (2014). Obtenido de Convention on Biological Diversity: http://www.cbd.int/gbo3/

Escobar, E. (23 de Marzo de 2012). A magazine on Business and Biodiversity. Obtenido de BioTrade Initiative: http://www.biotrade.org/privatesector4.asp

International Trade and Commodities. (s.f.). Obtenido de UNCTAD: http://unctad.org/en/pages/DITC/DITC.aspx

Millenium Assessment (2014). Obtenido de Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/About.html#1

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