Declaration of Cancun

COP-13: The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the highest governing body of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It brings together representatives of the countries party managers and key players to promote the implementation of the Convention.

The COP-13 is taking place from 2 to 17 December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. Among the activities of the COP-13 was the organisation of a High-level Ministerial Segment taking place on 2 and 3 December and aiming at gathering ministers and heads of delegations to discuss how to mainstream the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for well-being. 

The outcome of the High-Level Segment is the ‘Cancun Declaration’ stating that: 

"We, the ministers and other heads of delegation, having met on the occasion of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, Cancun, Mexico, 20161, on 2 and 3 December, declare that:

  • 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.


And therefore, we commit:

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 3 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 incentives.

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."

For your information and reference, the text of the Cancun Declaration may be accessed here:

It also encompasses the annex 'Guidance for Mainstreaming Conservation and Sustainable use of Biodiversity in the Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Tourism Sectors'.