Financial Mechanism and Resources

T5 (Sustainable Harvesting and Trade): How to Use GEF Funding

This page aims to provide information regarding the sustainable, safe and legal use, harvesting and trade of wild species for recipient Parties and relevant stakeholders, including how to access funding of the Global Environment Facility in this regard. It is a work in progress and will be updated as necessary.

Financial support of the Global Environment Facility

GEF-financed projects related to sustainable exploitation, trade and use

  • Wildlife Conservation for Development
  • Amazon, Congo, and Critical Forest Biomes
  • BDFA: Objective One
  • IWFA: Objective One

Guidance to Parties

  • Ensure that national sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes and strategies, instruments, national legislation and other regulations, promote the conservation and sustainable use by mainstreaming and integration, incentive reform, and engage different sectors (including, inter alia, energy, the financial sector, forestry, wildlife management, fisheries, water supply, agriculture, disaster prevention, health, and climate change) to fully account for the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services in decision-making, halt unsustainable use and support sustainable use for eradicating poverty and improving livelihoods; (VI/22, annex, programme element 2, goal 1, objective 3, activity (g); VII/12, para. 2(a); VII/27, annex, action 2.1.5, 2.2.5; VIII/1, annex, priority action 11.3.4; X/28, para. 8; X/29, para. 15; X/30, para. 7; X/32, para. 2(d), 2(g), 2(j); XIII/15, para. 7(a), 7(p), 7(r); XIII/8, para. 2)
  • Incorporate customary sustainable use of biological diversity by indigenous and local communities into national biodiversity strategies, policies, and actions plans, with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in decision‑making and management of biological resources, to address obstacles and devise solutions to protect and encourage customary sustainable use of biodiversity by indigenous and local communities, such as perpetuating and revitalizing customary use of wild species and traditional crops and livestock in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with in situ conservation and/or sustainable use requirements; (X/32, para. 2(e); VI/22, annex, programme element 1, goal 4, objective 3(e); VII/27, annex, action 1.5.4; VIII/1, annex, priority action
  • Develop, validate and implement sustainable use practices for plants, animals and microorganisms at the genetic, species, population, community and ecosystem levels, and review existing policies and legal frameworks to include a focus on sustainability, devolution of wildlife rights to local populations, guidelines distinguishing species that are resilient to hunting and those that are not, and consideration of taxation; (14/7, annex, para. 28(a); VII/27, annex, action 1.5.3)
  • Implement adaptive management and ecosystem approaches for the sustainable use or husbandry of plant and animal biomass, bearing in mind the potential population fluctuation in dry and sub-humid lands, and the support by Parties of national policies, legislation and land-use practices, which promote effective biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; (V/23, annex I, activity 7(h); IV/5, annex, programme element 2, Operational objective 2.1; VII/4, annex, para. 1.1.1)

  • Develop and implement wildlife laws governing the trade and sales of wild meat (which are relevant, understandable, and enforceable) to encourage legal, sustainable and traceable trade, and provide a disincentive to illegal traders and increase urban wild meat prices, to create the enabling conditions for a legal, regulated and sustainable wild meat sector and decrease the availability of and demand for unsustainably produced wild meat; (14/7, annex, para. 38(c)(ii), IIIC)
  • Assess, minimize and mitigate the impacts of illegal hunting on the subsistence hunting and livelihoods of indigenous and local communities, and on other subsistence users of wildlife resources; (XII/18, para. 10)
  • Require extractive and infrastructure industries that house their employees in close proximity to sources of wildlife to ensure that their employees comply with applicable regulation concerning hunting of wild meat species and, where appropriate, have access to affordable and sustainably produced/­sustainably-harvested sources of protein from livestock or sustainable system crops, sustainably and preferably domestically produced; (14/7, annex, para. 38(b)(ii))
  • Enforce national wildlife laws in partnership between the State and local communities, incentivizing biodiversity benefits for communities to cooperate and support conservation and sustainable use objectives, and strengthen the capacity of investigative, fiscal, legal and judicial personnel on environmental laws and policies to increase awareness, cooperation and coordination and effectiveness to address, crimes against wildlife; (14/7, annex, para. 28(b); VIII/22, para. 3(f))
  • Resolve land tenure and resource rights and responsibility, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders including for indigenous and local communities, in order to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; (VI/22, annex, programme element 2, goal 1, objective 3, activity (b))

Demand Reduction
  • Develop and implement demand-reduction strategies for unsustainably managed wildlife, focusing on towns and cities, using a cross-sectoral approach, and informed by research focused on the identification of environmental, economic and cultural drivers, attitudes and motivations that influence consumption of wild meat, using the voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector, as well as the Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals; (14/7, annex, para. 3, 38(a), IIIB)
  • Adapt national policy and legal frameworks to recognize the reality of the existing wild meat trade, record levels of existing wild meat consumption into national statistics, assess the role of wildlife consumption in livelihoods for national resource assessments and major policy planning documents, and differentiate among subsistence uses, illegal hunting, and domestic and international trade of specimens of wild species and products; (14/7, annex, para. 45(b)(i-iii); XII/18, para. 9)
  • Develop an enabling environment to increase the availability of sustainably produced and sustainably-harvested substitutes, as appropriate, and provide incentives to encourage the development of self-sufficient private enterprise and private-public partnerships to supply substitutes, such as sustainably produced/­sustainably-harvested chicken, fish and other domestic livestock, in urban settlements which are sufficiently large (and have a large enough customer base); (14/7, annex, para. 28(d), 38(b)(i); XI/25, para. 13(f))
  • Promote responsible consumption of certified sustainably-sourced products, recognizing the potential role of consistent and appropriate voluntary market-based certification schemes, and tracking and chain-of-custody systems, and public and private procurement policies; (14/7, annex, para. 38(d); IX/5, para. 1(o)(p))

Integration and Markets
  • Support the development, with the assistance, as appropriate, of the international barcode of life network, of DNA sequence-based technology (DNA barcoding) and associated DNA barcode reference libraries for priority taxonomic groups of organisms, to promote the application of these techniques for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to support related capacity-building activities, including relevant academic training, as appropriate, further to the Strategic Actions 3 and 4 of the capacity-building strategy for the Global Taxonomy Initiative; (XIII/31, para. 6(g))
  • Encourage, inter alia, the application of the “polluter-pays principle”, and effective market-based instruments that have the potential to support the sustainable use of biodiversity and improve the sustainability of supply chains, such as voluntary certification schemes, responsible consumption practices, green procurement by public administrations, improving chain-of-custody, including traceability of commodities derived from biodiversity, and other authentication schemes including markers identifying products of indigenous and local communities, consistent and in harmony with the three objectives of the Convention and other relevant international obligations; (X/32, para. 2(i); XIII/3, para. 53)
  • Integrate sustainable wild meat management considerations into forest certification schemes and criteria and indicator processes for sustainable forest management to mitigate the impacts of human activities on wildlife by including provisions for alternative, sustainable food sources and livelihoods, where needed, and for capacity-building and management systems that support legal and sustainable hunting, and effectively regulating the hunting of protected species; (14/7, annex, para. 28(c)(iv))
  • Identify, expand where needed, apply and monitor existing biodiversity safeguards and standards within extractive industry guidelines and policies, and integrate wildlife management, including wild meat species management, in the management or business plans for extractive industries (oil, gas, minerals, timber, etc.) operating in tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems, providing food alternatives to wild meat for staff working in such concessions where demand exceeds or is projected to exceed the sustainable yield; (14/7, annex, para. 28(c)(ii)-(iii))
  • Promote the conservation and sustainable use of important biodiversity, at all levels associated with agricultural, forestry and aquaculture systems, including: endemic species; economically valuable wild plants and animals; medicinal species relevant for food and nutrition; seeds through both formal and informal systems at the local national, regional and global levels; crop and livestock genetic diversity, including wild relatives of domesticated animals and plants; species currently underutilized or of potential value to human food and nutrition, including those important in times of crisis; wild resources, including those that support bushmeat and fisheries, including maintaining viable stocks of wild species for sustainable consumption by local and indigenous communities; (VIII/23A, annex, para. 3.1-3.6; VII/27, annex, action 1.3.8; IX/1, para. 12; X/25, para. 9; XI/5, para. 16; and also X/17, para. 5; XII/15, preamble; XIII/21, annex II, para. 16(a))
  • Update national incentive measures and frameworks with a view to mainstreaming the sustainable use of biodiversity into production, private and financial sectors, and identifying and removing or mitigating incentives that encourage unsustainable exploitation or habitat destruction and unsustainable consumption of bushmeat; (IV/4, annex I, para. 9(f)(iii); V/24, para. 4; VII/18, para. 4; VII/27, annex, action 2.1.3; VIII/1, annex, priority action; X/32, para. 2(h); XII/18, para. 12; XII/23, annex, para. 9c; XIII/15, para. 7(q))
  • Emphasis on the contribution of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) to further strengthen sustainable use of living and non-living resources both in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction; (X/29, para. 13(h))

Monitoring and Identification
  • Establish regional and national monitoring frameworks for wild meat to inform policy and legal interventions, including evaluation of wild meat consumers, wild meat suppliers, the wild meat commodity chain, the impacts of wild meat hunting, relative health benefits and risks from wild meat and alternatives in development planning, and the impacts of policy implementation; (14/7, annex, para. 45(c))
  • Establish and implement effective traceability, monitoring and control systems on the sustainable use of biodiversity at the national and local levels, including sustainable use within protected areas at any relevant scale; (XII/18, para. 5; X/32, para. 2(c); X/31A, para. 2)
  • Identify areas for conservation that would benefit through the sustainable use of biological diversity recognizing that sustainable use can be an effective tool in imbuing value to biodiversity, and facilitate sustainable use within protected areas applying the ecosystem approach, in accordance with their management objectives; (14/6, para. 5; X/31A, para. 1(d); X/31B, para. 21; X/29, para. 32; XIII/3, para. 55; V/24, para. 7)

Research and Technologies
  • Develop and promote methods and systems, and build capacity and community awareness to determine sustainable wildlife harvest levels at national and other levels, with a particular view to monitoring and improving sustainable wildlife management and customary sustainable use, consistent with national legislation; (XI/25, para. 13(e))
  • Encourage academic and research bodies, and relevant national, regional and international organizations and networks, to conduct further research to address relationship between resilience of ecosystems and the sustainable use of biodiversity; time scales appropriate to the life history of species or populations; transboundary context, (e.g., a resource shared between different countries, or migratory species moving across national jurisdictions); methods and mechanisms to determine sustainability of various intensities of use and participatory methods for determining appropriate levels of sustainable use; ways of enhancing equitable distribution of benefits derived from the sustainable use of components of biodiversity, including genetic resources; (14/6, para. 6(b); IV/5, annex, programme element 3, Operational objective 3.1; V/23, annex I, activity 7(k); VII/4, annex, goal 3.1, activity 3.1.2; VII/12, para. 6; IX/5, para. 1(j), 1(n); X/32, para. 2(f); XIII/15, para. 7(v))
  • Promote technology development and transfer, including through intellectual property rights, to ensure that the use of biological diversity is sustainable, particularly for important species, wild relatives, neglected and under-utilized species, including through protocols for access to and transfer of technology of benefit to biodiversity, and national and regional information networking; (VII/12, para. 8; VIII/1, annex, priority action 11.2.1 and 11.2.2; VIII/23A, annex, para. 3.10; VI/5, para. 18 and 24)

Participation and Cooperation
  • Develop or explore mechanisms to involve the private sector and indigenous and local communities in initiatives on the sustainable use of biological diversity, and in mechanisms to ensure that indigenous and local communities benefit from such sustainable use; (X/32, para. 3(c); V/24, para. 6; 14/6, para. 6(a))
  • Involve communities in the sustainable management of local wildlife resources, recognizing and supporting territories and areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities (ICCAs), and using a range of governance models, including community hunting zones, community conservancies, payment for ecosystem services and certification schemes, as well as biodiversity-friendly management models; (14/7, annex, para. 28(c)(i))
  • Strengthen appropriate local institutional structures and indigenous and local techniques that enable conservation and sustainable use in the long term, and facilitate the full and effective participation of the indigenous and local communities in the design and implementation of policies and programmes on sustainable wildlife management at national and subnational level, according to national legislation; (XIII/8, para. 4; XII/18, para. 11; XI/25, para. 8; V/23, annex I, activity 8(a), 9(c); VII/27, annex, action 2.2.2, 2.2.3, 2.2.6; VIII/1, annex, priority action 4.2.2,, 9.1.1, 9.1.2; XIII/15, para. 7(s); XIII/3, para. 52; VI/22, annex, programme element 1, goal 4, objective 3)
  • Support integrated local, national, and transboundary action to build partnerships among relevant organizations, institutions and other relevant stakeholders to address poaching and illegal wildlife trade hand-in-hand with the equally important issues of food security, livelihoods and the sustainable use of wildlife, including cross-sectoral dialogues and joint trainings on sustainable wildlife management and sustainable use of biodiversity, among relevant sectors, including the forestry, agriculture, veterinary and public health, natural resources, finance, rural development, education, legal and private sectors, food processing and trade, as well as indigenous peoples and local communities, and other relevant stakeholders; (14/7, para. 6 and annex, para. 45(a); X/28, para. 10(j) ; VII/27, annex, action 1.3.4 ; V/23, annex I, activity 7(m); VII/4, annex, para. 1.1.4; VII/3, para. 13; VI/22, para. 33; VIII/23B, annex, activity 3.2; VI/5, annex II, para. 2.3)
  • Promote regional cooperation on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity resources, including deep seabed genetic resources, shared ecosystem management and exchange of experiences; (VIII/1, annex, priority action; VIII/21, para. 6; XIII/2, para. 9(d))
  • Increase the awareness of the importance and contribution of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, use targeted media campaigning (based on an understanding of the drivers of consumption and relevant substitutes) to reduce the demand for unsustainably produced wild meat, and update formal educational curricula to inform and educate about the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity including wild meat/wildlife issues; (VII/4, annex, goal 2.4, activity 2.4.6; IX/1, para. 16(b); VI/22, annex, programme element 2, goal 3(c); 14/7, annex, para. 45(b)(iv), 38(c)(i))
  • Recognize the important role of women, in particular the vital role that women in indigenous and local communities play, in the processing and sale of wild meat and broadly in the sustainable use of biological diversity, while taking into account the needs, priorities and capacities of women and men;(14/7, annex, para. 45(b)(v); VI/22, para. 32)

IPBES Sustainable Use of Wild Species Assessment (2022)

With about 50,000 wild species used through different practices, including more than 10,000 wild species harvested directly for human food, rural people in developing countries are most at risk from unsustainable use, with lack of complementary alternatives often forcing them to further exploit wild species already at risk

70% of the world’s poor are directly dependent on wild species. One in five people rely on wild plants, algae and fungi for their food and income; 2.4 billion rely on fuel wood for cooking and about 90% of the 120 million people working in capture fisheries are supported by small-scale fishing. But the regular use of wild species is extremely important not only in the Global South. From the fish that we eat, to medicines, cosmetics, decoration and recreation, wild species’ use is much more prevalent than most people realise.

The use of wild species is an important source of income for millions of people worldwide. Wild tree species account for two thirds of global industrial roundwood; trade in wild plants, algae and fungi is a billion-dollar industry; and even non-extractive uses of wild species are big business. Tourism, based on observing wild species, is one of the main reasons that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, protected areas globally received 8 billion visitors and generated US$600 billion every year.

The Report identifies five broad categories of ‘practices’ in the use of wild species: fishing; gathering; logging; terrestrial animal harvesting (including hunting); and non-extractive practices, such as observing. For each practice, it then examines specific ‘uses’ such as for food and feed; materials; medicine, energy; recreation; ceremony; learning and decoration – providing a detailed analysis of the trends in each, over the past 20 years. In most cases, use of wild species has increased, but sustainability of use has varied, such as in gathering for medicine and logging for materials and energy.

Taking fishing as an example, recent global estimates confirm that about 34% of marine wild fish stocks are overfished and 66% are fished within biologically sustainable levels – but within this global picture there are significant local and contextual variations. Countries with robust fisheries management have seen stocks increasing in abundance. The Atlantic bluefin tuna population, for instance, has been rebuilt and is now fished within sustainable levels. For countries and regions with low intensity fisheries management measures, however, the status of stocks is often poorly known, but generally believed to be below the abundance that would maximise sustainable food production. Many small-scale fisheries are unsustainable or only partially sustainable, especially in Africa for both inland and marine fisheries, and in Asia, Latin America and Europe for coastal fisheries.”

Overexploitation is one of the main threats to the survival of many land-based and aquatic species in the wild. Other drivers such as land- and seascape changes; climate change; pollution and invasive alien species, impact the abundance and distribution of wild species, and can increase stress and challenges among the human communities that use them. The survival of an estimated 12% of wild tree species is threatened by unsustainable logging; unsustainable gathering is one of the main threats for several plant groups, notably cacti, cycads and orchids, and unsustainable hunting has been identified as a threat for 1,341 wild mammal species – with declines in large-bodied species that have low natural rates of increase also linked to hunting pressure.

Global trade in wild species has expanded substantially in volume, value and trade networks over the past four decades. While trade in wild species provides important income for exporting countries, offers higher incomes for harvesters, and can diversify sources of supply to allow pressure to be redirected from species being unsustainably used, it also decouples the consumption of wild species from their places of origin. Without effective regulation across supply chains – from local to global – global trade of wild species generally increases pressures on wild species, leading to unsustainable use and sometimes to wild population collapses (e.g., shark fin trade).

Illegal use and illegal trade in wild species occur across all of the practices and often leads to unsustainable use. Illegal trade in wild species represents the third largest class of all illegal trade – with estimated annual values of up to US$199 billion. Timber and fish make up the largest volumes and value of illegal trade in wild species.

Seven key elements could be used as levers of change to promote sustainable use of wild species if they are scaled-up across practices, regions and sectors:
  • Policy options that are inclusive and participatory
  • Policy options that recognise and support multiple forms of knowledge
  • Policy instruments & tools that ensure fair & equitable distribution of costs & benefits
  • Context-specific policies
  • Monitoring of wild species and practices
  • Policy instruments that are aligned at international, national, regional and local levels; maintain coherence & consistency with international obligations & take into account customary rules and norms
  • Robust institutions, including customary institutions

Indigenous peoples manage fishing, gathering, terrestrial animal harvesting and other uses of wild species on more than 38 million km2 of land, equivalent to about 40% of terrestrial conserved areas, in 87 countries. Policies supporting secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests, as well as poverty alleviation, create enabling conditions for sustainable use of wild species. Indigenous stewardship of biodiversity is often embedded in local knowledge, practices and spirituality. The sustainable use of wild species is central to the identity and existence of many indigenous peoples and local communities. These practices and cultures are diverse, but there are common values including the obligation to engage nature with respect, reciprocate for what is taken, avoid waste, manage harvests and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of benefits from wild species for community well-being. Globally, deforestation is generally lower on indigenous territories, in particular where there is security of land tenure, continuity of knowledge and languages, and alternative livelihoods. Bringing scientists and indigenous peoples together to learn from each other will strengthen the sustainable use of wild species. This is especially important because most national frameworks and international agreements largely continue to emphasize ecological and some social considerations, including economic and governance issues – while cultural contexts receive little attention.

Climate change, increasing demand and technological advances -making many extractive practices more efficient – are likely to present significant challenges to sustainable use in the future. Actions are identified for each practice that would help to address these challenges. In fishing, this would include fixing current inefficiencies; reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; suppressing harmful financial subsidies; supporting small-scale fisheries; adapting to changes in oceanic productivity due to climate change; and proactively creating effective transboundary institutions. In logging this would entail management and certification of forests for multiple uses; technological innovations to reduce waste in manufacturing of wood products; and economic and political initiatives that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including land tenure.

In most future scenarios that enable the sustainable use of wild species, transformative changes share common characteristics – such as integration of plural value systems; equitable distribution of costs and benefits; changes in social values, cultural norms and preferences; and effective institutions and governance systems. Ambitious goals are found to be necessary but not sufficient to drive transformative change. The world is dynamic, and sustainable use of wild species requires constant negotiation and adaptive management. It also requires a common vision of sustainable use and transformative change in human-nature relationships.