CANCUN DECLARATION ON MAINSTREAMING THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF BIODIVERSITY FOR WELL-BEING
We, the ministers and other heads of delegation, having met on the occasion of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, Cancun, Mexico, 2016 1, on 2 and 3 December,
1. It is essential to live in harmony with nature and mother earth, as a fundamental condition for the well-being of all life, which depends on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it underpins.
2. Biodiversity offers solutions to the pressing development and societal challenges that the world community is currently facing.
3. We are most concerned by the negative impacts on biodiversity caused by degradation and fragmentation of ecosystems, unsustainable land use changes, overexploitation of natural resources, illegal harvesting and trade of species, introduction of invasive alien species, pollution of air, soil, inland waters and oceans, climate change and desertification.
4. It is necessary to change human development patterns, behaviors, and activities to respect nature.
5. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, which strongly reflects biodiversity, provides new opportunities to address development challenges in a transformative manner and with a perspective that integrates environmental, economic and social dimensions.
6. Implementation of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which recognizes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems and the protection of biodiversity when taking action to address climate change, can and should also contribute to the implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and vice versa.
7. We need to make additional efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols, and facilitate closer collaboration with other initiatives adopted in international fora related to sustainable development, trade, agriculture,
fisheries, forestry and tourism, among other sectors.
Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, eighth meeting of the
Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing, 4 to 17 December 2016; High-level Ministerial Segment of the meetings, 2 to 3 December 2016, Cancun, Mexico.
To work at all levels within our governments and across all sectors to mainstream biodiversity, establishing effective institutional, legislative and regulatory frameworks, tailored to national needs and circumstances, and incorporating an inclusive economic, social, and cultural approach with full respect for nature and human rights, through the following actions:
1. Ensure that sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, plans and programmes, as well as legal and administrative measures and budgets established by our governments, integrate in a structured and coherent manner actions for the conservation, sustainable use, management, and restoration of biological diversity and ecosystems.
2. Incorporate biodiversity values into national accounting and reporting systems.
3. Update and implement our National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, to strengthen the mainstreaming of biological diversity.
4. Strengthen institutional support and capacities for biodiversity mainstreaming.
5. Encourage sectors that depend or have an impact on biodiversity to adopt integrated approaches for
its conservation and sustainable use, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use
of genetic resources.
6. Promote the conservation, sustainable use, and where necessary, restoration of ecosystems as a basis
for achieving good health, clean water and sanitation, food security, the reduction of hunger and
improvement of nutrition, poverty eradication, prevention of natural disasters, resilient, sustainable
and inclusive cities and human settlements, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
7. Promote sustainable economic growth aimed at full and productive employment and decent work,
reducing the global ecological footprint, combating land degradation and desertification, advancing
peace, justice and the reduction of poverty in all its forms, and addressing social inequality among
people and regions.
8. Increase and strengthen ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas
and other effective area-based conservation measures.
9. Promote the generation and use of biodiversity-related knowledge and information and make it readily available to society to support decision-making at all levels.
10. Integrate biodiversity into educational programmes to raise awareness on biodiversity and its values.
11. Enhance international cooperation and encourage innovation and the transfer of appropriate technologies.
12. Scale up efforts for resource mobilization from all sources.
13. Encourage organizations such as the Global Environment Facility, development banks, and financial
and cooperation institutions to support public policy coherence in programmes, capacity building,
knowledge management and implementation mechanisms, particularly in developing countries.
14. Encourage closer cooperation and synergies among relevant organizations of the United Nations system, inter alia, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World
Tourism Organization, multilateral environmental agreements, and other organizations and international initiatives and processes, including at the regional level.
15. Facilitate the active and effective involvement of all relevant actors and stakeholders.
16. Undertake actions to strengthen indigenous peoples and local communities’ capacities to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity by respecting their rights, the customary sustainable use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of their traditional knowledge and practices.
17. Improve the regulatory framework for private sector activities, enhance incentives and promote tools
for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as for the fair and equitable sharing of
benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
18. Support sustainable production and consumption throughout value chains, the safe and sustainable
application of technologies, and the phasing out of harmful incentives and strengthening of positive
Bearing in mind that the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism sectors heavily depend on biodiversity
and its components, as well as on the ecosystem functions and services which biodiversity underpins, and
that these sectors also impact on biodiversity in various direct and indirect ways, we are also committed to
undertake specific actions for each sector as described in the guidance annexed to this Declaration.
Life on planet Earth and our common future are at stake. It is urgent to take strong actions in a
responsible manner to ensure the survival of biological wealth and healthy ecosystems that support human
development and well-being. We must strive to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the 2050
Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature. Therefore, we must raise the level of ambition and political
will for mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable
sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Finally, we call upon the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, Cancun, Mexico, 2016 to take into
account this Declaration in its work. We also request the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological
Diversity to include this Declaration as part of the report of the conference, and to collaborate with
Parties, relevant international organizations and stakeholders for the advancement of mainstreaming biodiversity.
This declaration will be forwarded to the United Nations General Assembly, the High-level Political
Forum on Sustainable Development 2017 and the Third United Nations Environmental Assembly.
Guidance for Mainstreaming Conservation and Sustainable use of Biodiversity in the
Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Tourism Sectors
Agriculture, crop and livestock:
Ending hunger, achieving food security and improving human nutrition are global development
objectives. A major challenge over the coming years will be increasing agricultural production to
adequately feed the growing world population. Biodiversity is the basis of agriculture as it is at the origin
of all crops and domesticated livestock and the variety among them. Essential functions such as nutrient
cycling, decomposition of organic matter, soil formation and rehabilitation, pest and disease regulation,
and pollination that benefit crop and livestock production are maintained by ecosystems which are critical
to sustain food production, nutrition and, therefore, human well-being. Meeting global food demands in a sustainable way is achievable, but it will require significant actions to change some existing policies and practices through:
1. The promotion of sustainable agriculture for food security, human nutrition, health, economic
development and environmental protection;
2. The adoption of a holistic integrated view and assessment of ecosystems and of the interlinkages between agriculture and biodiversity;
3. The use of integrated and cross-sectoral planning processes, reducing inefficiencies, and increasing productivity including through ecological intensification, when appropriate, while avoiding negative
impacts on terrestrial, marine, coastal and inland ecosystems and its associated biodiversity;
4. The conservation and cultivation of native varieties, as well as farmers’ landraces, locally adapted
breeds and underutilized species, including those threatened by production intensification;
5. Implementation of the Global Plans of Action on Animal, Plant and Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;
6. Effective management and conservation of pollinators;
7. The recognition, conservation and sustainable management of soil as a living ecosystem and as one of
the foundations of agriculture and food security, and the advancement of the understanding and
conservation of its biodiversity;
8. The use of measures and incentives to promote diversified agro-ecological systems and the
designation of agricultural biodiversity conservation sites, such as the Globally Important
Agricultural Heritage Systems of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;
9. The prevention of agricultural pollution, and the efficient, safe and sustainable use of agrochemicals,
fertilizers and other agricultural inputs;
10. The safe and sustainable use of appropriate technologies, and the integrated, efficient and sustainable
management of energy, water and soil resources;
11. The promotion of the use of biodiversity in agricultural systems to control or reduce pests and
12. Sustainable consumption and production patterns, including more diversified diets based on a broader
range of biodiversity, as well as the promotion of best practices in post-harvest agricultural product
management in order to reduce waste and loss of food, among other measures.
Fisheries and aquaculture:
Marine, coastal and inland ecosystems host a variety of aquatic biological diversity that greatly contribute
to the economic, social and cultural aspects of communities around the world. They play a significant role in eliminating hunger, promoting health and reducing poverty, and are a source of employment and income and offer opportunities for economic development. Fisheries and aquaculture depend on the
sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems to maintain economic, social and ecological benefits in the
long term. Biodiversity is the source of wild fisheries, and mainstreaming biodiversity in fisheries
policies, programmes and plans is key to sustain the habitats which serve as feeding, spawning and
nursery sites which are essential for wild fish populations. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are key
components of sustainable development. To ensure their sustainability, the following actions are needed:
1. Integrate the ecosystem approach into fisheries policies, programmes and plans in order to enhance
sustainable fisheries and aquaculture to contribute to food security and nutrition;
2. The establishment of actions for the conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources which
contribute to the ongoing sustainability of stocks, to the reduction of impacts on threatened species
and aquatic ecosystems and that ensure the long-term viability of this major sector;
3. Safeguard livelihoods, income and employment of fishing communities;
4. Conservation of marine, coastal, and inland water ecosystems, recognizing their role as carbon stocks
5. Enhance actions to reduce pollution, including noise and plastic materials that can damage marine, coastal and inland water ecosystems;
6. Increase efforts to develop and utilize technological innovations for monitoring, traceability and sustainably managing fisheries and aquaculture to reduce bycatch, discards and waste, and to improve methods in such a way that guarantees long-term viability;
7. Promote and encourage aquaculture that uses native species;
8. Adequate prevention, control and eradication of invasive alien species;
9. Develop strategies to reduce unregulated and unreported fishing and illegal trade; and
10. Strengthen the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Forests hold the majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Tropical, temperate and boreal forests
offer a diverse set of habitats for plants, animals and micro-organisms. Prospects for sustainable development will be greatly influenced by the state of diversity of forest ecosystems and species. They provide a range of benefits to people which extend far beyond the provision of timber. The ecosystem services that forests provide are of particular importance for the poor and vulnerable. Furthermore, for many people, and in particular indigenous peoples and local communities, they are an essential element of cultural identity, spirituality and worldview. Forestry, through the development and implementation of appropriate policies and practices, contributes to forest and wildlife protection. In this regard, the following guidance is recommended for the conservation and sustainable use of forests:
1. Promotion of sustainable forest management, as a dynamic and evolving concept aiming to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests;
2. Appreciate the importance of forest ecosystems as reservoirs of biodiversity and sources of environmental services, highlighting their crucial role for human development, water supply, food security, nutrition and human health, especially for forest-dependent communities;
3. Emphasizing their relevance as carbon sinks and their critical role for developing strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation, such as activities related to reducing emissions from
deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests
and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, as well as for protection against natural hazards and disasters;
4. Strengthen the implementation of the Global Soil and Mountain Partnerships;
5. Design and promotion of incentive packages for restoration, conservation and sustainable use of forest resources;
6. Promote participation of the private sector in the development of production chains oriented to reduce
deforestation and forest degradation while increasing the economic and social benefits of landholders
and local communities; and
7. Promote the implementation of the International Agreement on Forests.
The tourism sector is one of the major sectors in the global economy. Nature-based tourism relies on biodiversity and diverse ecosystems to attract tourists. Tourism can contribute directly to the conservation of sensitive areas and habitats through a variety of activities such as park-entrance fees and by raising
awareness of the importance of biodiversity. There are pathways for ensuring the long-term sustainability
of tourism while also ensuring that it positively contributes to biodiversity, including:
1. Integrate biodiversity into policies and models of economic and social development for tourism as an
enabling agent for change;
2. Promote tourism linkages which support decoupling economic growth from environmental
degradation in the tourism sector and beyond;
3. Implement responsible business practices;
4. Consolidate tourism as a source of quality jobs, investment, training and development to improve
peoples’ livelihoods, including by working with indigenous and local communities to support their
5. Promote tourism as a rewarding experience for visitors, while improving the appreciation,
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
6. Encourage the adoption of practices for sustainable green and blue infrastructure, sustainable
production and consumption, the conservation of landscapes and ecosystems, the use of land planning
and the promotion of cultural values associated with biodiversity;
7. Promote the development and use of technologies to transform tourism into a preservation tool for
8. Implement the World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism Program;
9. Invest in educational programmes for tourism operators so they can better understand the importance
of biodiversity in their work;
10. Develop and support institutional frameworks to support the development of sustainable tourism; and
11. Invest in capacity-building programmes on biodiversity for the tourism sector.