UN Issues Guidelines To Minimize Risk Of Invasive Species At The Convention On Biological Diversity

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UN has adopted new guidance to tackle the introduction of invasive species as pets, aquarium and terrarium species, and as live bait and live food.

The guidance addresses a major pathway for introduction and spread of invasive alien species, as a significant percentage of global invasive introductions result from pets, aquarium and terrarium species that escape from confined conditions and then get into the natural environment.

“This is an important step forward to prevent, and control the risks on biodiversity posed by non-native live animals, plants as well as  pathogens and parasites attached to the live specimens that are in trade, including growing market on the Internet trade,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“Safe trade of live animals and plants and responsible conduct protects unique biodiversity in the varied biogeographic regions of the world while facilitating an international market. This contributes to sustainable development worldwide,” he added.

The guidelines, which were adopted during the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP-12), fill a gap in the international guidance on prevention, control or eradication of invasive alien species. They are intended to apply to the import or transport of species to a country or distinct biogeographical area within a country, including trade via the Internet.

The guidance is relevant to countries, relevant organizations, the industry and consumers, including all actors along the value chain, such as importers, breeders, wholesalers, retailers and customers. For the case of live food, this also includes restaurants and markets. It provides elements that national and other authorities may use for the development of regulations or codes of conduct, or that international organizations, industry and civil society organizations may use in voluntary codes of conduct and other guidance.

In spite of countries’ efforts, the trend of invasions of alien species does not show signs of slowing down. The fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook 4, released earlier this week, re-affirmed that invasive alien species are a major threat to biodiversity and their introduction has accelerated as a result of growing international trade.

This guidance directly supports the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity target 9 which says that “By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.”

The Convention on Biological Diversity Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 194 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes for implementation, the transfer of technologies, sharing information on good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community.