UNCTAD: What is BioTrade in exports and imports?

UNCTAD launched the BioTrade Initiative in 1996 with the aim of promoting trade and investment in biodiversity to achieve sustainable development.

In general, this type of trade activities support the objectives of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

For that focus and purpose, UNCTAD partners with national and international organizations to develop biodiversity-based sectors.

BioTrade refers to the activities of collection or production, transformation and commercialization of goods and services derived from biodiversity, under criteria of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Thus, these criteria are the essence of BioTrade and are known as the BioTrade Principles and Criteria.

The application of the BioTrade Principles and Criteria in different contexts promotes BioTrade processes in the promotion and conservation of biodiversity through sustainable commercial use.

Now these principles and criteria are being implemented in more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe.


The UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative and its partners are actively involved in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) process, conveying the positive role that sustainable trade can play in protecting biodiversity to the CBD Parties and other relevant stakeholders.

As the United Nations trade agency, UNCTAD is leading, engaging and consulting with BioTrade partners and key trade and biodiversity stakeholders to contribute to the GBF.

Emphasis is being placed on providing substantive inputs in relation to lessons learned, experiences and information related to (1) BioTrade and sustainable trade in biodiversity-based goods and services; (2) private sector participation; (3) sustainable use of biodiversity; and (4) incentives.

Once the GBF is adopted, efforts will be channeled to support its implementation.