Financial Mechanism and Resources

T6 (Invasive Alien Species): How to Use GEF Funding

This page aims to provide information regarding the elimination, minimization, reduction and/or mitigation of the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity and ecosystem services 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.

Good progress has been made during the past decade on identifying and prioritizing invasive alien species in terms of the risk they present, as well as in the feasibility of managing them. Successful programmes to eradicate invasive alien species, especially invasive mammals on islands, have benefited native species. However, these successes represent only a small proportion of all occurrences of invasive species. There is no evidence of a slowing down in the number of new introductions of alien species. Reported actions included: Creation and implementation of legislation or regulations for monitoring, controlling, and eradicating invasive alien species, including rules and regulations related to import and export requirements; Measures to control and manage ballast water; Establishment of national guidelines for management and control of invasive alien species; Establishment of phytosanitary and zoosanitary checkpoints at national points of entry; Development and implementation of strategies related to biosecurity (including border control, inspection, quarantine, early warning systems and rapid response systems); Awareness raising (including the development of information portals and websites, training programmes and community events); Strategies of interregional collaboration.

Financial support of the Global Environment Facility

GEF-financed projects related to invasive alien species

GEF-8 BDFA: Objective One

Guidance to the financial mechanism

The Conference of the Parties invited the Global Environment Facility to finance projects that assist with the development and implementation, at national and regional levels, of the invasive alien species strategies and action plans, in particular those strategies and actions related to geographically and evolutionarily isolated ecosystems, capacity-building to prevent or minimize the risks of the dispersal and establishment of invasive alien species, improved prevention, rapid response and management measures to address threats of alien invasive species. (Decision X/24, annex, para. 4.5; XI/5, para. 19; XIII/21, annex II, para. 16(d))

Guidance to Parties

  • Develop and implement alien invasive species strategies and action plans to take account of effects of alien species on populations and naturally occurring genetic diversity, prioritize actions at all levels, including national, subnational and local levels, to address invasive alien species in particularly vulnerable ecosystems, and place more focus on preventing the spread of invasive alien species and to eradicate those already present; (V/8, para. 6; VI/23, para. 12(c); VI/23, para. 10(a); VI/23, para. 10(c), 5; XII/17, para. 6(j); 14/1, para. 14(g); VIII/27, para. 60
  • Incorporate invasive alien species considerations into national biodiversity strategies and action plans and into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, strategies and plans, taking into account the ecosystem approach, and ensure that relevant laws and provisions, such as those related to conservation, do not inadvertently constrain the use of appropriate measures to address invasive alien species; (VI/23, para. 12(d); IV/1C, para. 4; X/24, annex, para. 4.5; XI/5, para. 19; XIII/21, annex II, para. 16(d); VIII/27, para. 64; XIII/13, para. 18

Conservation and Restoration
  • Continue efforts on the management of invasive alien species, with special emphasis and giving priority and importance to protected areas and key biodiversity areas, including World Heritage sites; (XII/17, para. 6(k); VIII/27, para. 63
  • Minimize risks associated with the introduction of alien species through activities related to ecosystem restoration and development aid; (XII/17, para. 6(f))

  • Collaborate on the development and use of early warning systems, including networks of focal points, and on the development and use of rapid response mechanisms; (IX/4B, para. 7; XII/17, para. 6(i)
  • Develop risk assessment/analysis to address threats of invasive alien species to biological diversity, and incorporate such methodologies in environmental impact assessments, and strategic environmental assessments, as appropriate and relevant, using existing guidance on risk analysis relevant to invasive alien species to enhance prevention, including guidance developed by the International Plant Protection Convention, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; (IX/4A, para. 1; VI/23, para. 12(a), 24; VII/13, para. 6(b); XI/28, para. 11, 23 and 4(iii); XII/17, para. 6(b)
  • Develop and share a list of regulated invasive alien species, based on the results of risk analysis, where appropriate, and share information on domestic occurrences of alien species that may be invasive elsewhere, through appropriate information-sharing mechanisms; (14/11, para. 9 and 11; VIII/27, para. 12 and 61; X/38, para. 7; XI/28, para. 20; XII/17, para. 6(h); XIII/13, para. 25

  • Identify and prioritize pathways of introduction of invasive alien species, taking into account, inter alia, information on the taxa, the frequency of introduction, and the magnitude of impacts, as well as climate change scenarios, and build capacity for action at the national level for addressing the various pathways for introduction and spread of invasive alien species; (IX/4B, para. 18; XII/17, para. 6(d)-6(e); VIII/27, para. 4
  • Enhance cooperation with the authorities responsible for customs, border controls, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other relevant competent bodies at the national and regional levels, , including the private sector that might provide pathways or vectors for the unintended transfer of invasive alien species, to prevent unintentional introductions of invasive alien species associated with trade in live organisms, using the supplementary voluntary guidance for avoiding unintentional introductions of invasive alien species associated with trade in live organisms; (VI/23, para. 10(d); 14/11, para. 3 and 10
  • Promote greater awareness among consumers, e-commerce traders and managers and other stakeholders about the risk of biological invasions and associated sanitary and phytosanitary risks, and the relevant international standards and national regulations through, inter alia, e‑commerce market places and related social media, develop suitable measures and guidance to minimize the risks of introduction of invasive alien species associated with trade in wildlife via e‑commerce and facilitate reporting on the trade in regulated live species via e-commerce; (XIII/13, para. 7-8; XII/17, para. 6(g)
  • Review, as necessary, their national regulatory framework in order to develop and implement measures to ensure the safe import and prevention of spread of wildlife species and associated materials (such as packaging material and food) that can be pathways of introduction for invasive species, making use of appropriate risk analysis processes, as well as tools such as horizon scanning, which could consider drivers of trade, future trade patterns and potentially invasive alien species that may enter through trade; (XIII/13, para. 2
  • Explore, develop and apply ways and means to promote changes in the behavior of individuals, in particular, consumers and businesses engaged in the wildlife trade, so as to reduce the risks to biodiversity associated with legal trade, and prevent instances of illegal trade, in wildlife, including through engagement with the social sciences and the use of social media in targeted awareness campaigns, and through cooperation with wildlife trade organizations; (XIII/13, para. 4
  • Take measures, as appropriate and consistent with their national and international obligations, to control import or export of pets, aquarium species, live bait, live food or plant seeds, that pose risks as invasive alien species, and prevent and minimize introductions of known invasive species into the wild, including through measures addressing disposal and discard of such species, and promote the use of the Guidance on Devising And Implementing Measures to Address the Risks Associated with the Introduction of Alien Species as Pets, Aquarium and Terrarium Species, and as Live Bait and Live Food for the development of regulations, codes of conduct and/or other guidance, as appropriate, by States, industry and relevant organizations at all levels, and to facilitate the harmonization of measures; (VIII/27, para. 53-54; XII/16, para. 2
  • Take measures to address the issue of tourism as a pathway for introduction and spread of invasive alien species, taking into account the Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development adopted in VII/14, with particular emphasis on tourism in sites of high conservation value; (VIII/27, para. 50
  • Apply the precautionary approach with regards to the introduction, establishment and spread of invasive alien species, for agricultural and biomass production, including biofuel feedstocks, and for carbon sequestration; (X/38, para. 6
  • Promote aquaculture of native species with the aim to avoid accidental introduction of alien species and their parasites, and implement national and regional programmes for the control of aquatic invasive species; (VIII/27, para. 23-24
  • Implement the Code of Practice on the Introduction and Transfers of Marine Organisms of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and Article 196 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; (VIII/27, para. 21
  • Promote collaboration at the national level among relevant agencies responsible for matters of invasive alien species and/or civil air transport (e.g., civil aviation, transport, customs, trade, plant protection, environment); (VIII/27, para. 37)
  • Communicate and raise awareness about the risk of invasive alien species spread via sea containers, cargo transported within the sea containers, as well as on bio-fouling and ballast water, particularly with stakeholders involved in the packing or movement of sea containers, using the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units, as appropriate, and implement controls at national level, for example through appropriate measures (e.g., regulations and standards), on marine biofouling as a pathway for introduction and spread of invasive alien species, including for recreational vessels; (XIII/13, para. 11; VIII/27, para. 29)
  • Address the issue of domestic translocation of ballast water, by vessels requiring equivalent compliance with but not covered by the International Convention on the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments; (VIII/27, para. 26)
  • Take measures as appropriate and consistent with national and international obligations, based for example on risk assessment, to control movements of animals used for ex situ breeding, including controlling the movements of fish between water bodies and drainage basins as well as containing the movements of animals within safari parks and zoos; (VIII/27, para. 57)
  • Consider, through collaboration with biosecurity, biodiversity and aid organizations, national controls or codes of practice to address invasive alien species in development assistance efforts; (VIII/27, para. 44)
  • Promote good practice in relation to invasive alien species in any military-aid or joint exercises, and develop procedures and build capacity among military forces to avoid the introduction of potentially invasive species into new areas, taking into account relevant international guidance, and detect and rectify any problems of invasive alien species created during military operations; (VIII/27, para. 39)
  • Raise awareness among scientific research organizations of existing measures to control the spread of invasive alien species, and to put in place measures to prevent or minimize the risks of introduction and spread of invasive alien species associated with scientific research activities; (VIII/27, para. 45)
  • Develop and apply biological control programmes against invasive alien species, including prioritization based on impacts, feasibility and likelihood of success of biological control, selection of the biological control agents, using native species and contingency plans, and evaluate and take appropriate measures (e.g., develop guidance or codes of practice regarding the trade and use of biocontrol agents) at national, regional and global levels to address the potential risks of biocontrol agents as invasive alien species; (XIII/13, para. 12-15; VIII/27, para. 55)
  • Strengthen the capacity of border control authorities and other competent authorities to identify invasive alien species or potentially invasive alien species, to assess risks and take steps to manage or minimize those risks and to control and eradicate prioritized invasive alien species, and proactively prevent the introduction and spread of invasive alien species within their territories, for example by offering to help neighboring States to deal with particular alien species that may cross borders; (XI/28, para. 19; VIII/27, para. 62)

Coordination and participation
  • Ensure effective cooperation and coordination between relevant agencies and authorities at the national and regional level, including those responsible for veterinary, phytosanitary, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, environment and biodiversity issues, and interest-holders relevant to the introduction, control and management of invasive alien species, for example through the establishment of national coordination committees in order to ensure a coordinated and coherent science-based approach to addressing threats from invasive alien species; (XII/17, para. 6(m); XI/28, para. 4(i); IX/4B, para. 26; VIII/27, para. 8; VII/13, para. 5(e), 6(e); VI/23, para. 10(b); 14/11, para. 3(c))
  • Proactively engage relevant stakeholders and indigenous and local communities in the eradication, the prevention of introductions, and mitigation of impacts of invasive alien species, including by awareness-raising and training as well as through the design and implementation of appropriate incentive measures; (XIII/13, para. 19; IX/4B, para. 8; VII/13, para. 6(g); VI/23, para. 10(f))
  • Cooperate with the business sector in order to address the issue of invasive alien species, particularly in the areas of financial support and technical cooperation, and communication, education and public awareness on invasive alien species, and support the development and implementation of voluntary schemes, certification systems and codes of conduct for relevant industries and stakeholder groups including specific guidelines to prevent the introduction of, and manage potentially invasive commercially important species (including plants, pets, invertebrates, fish, and aquarium / terrarium species); (14/11, para. 8; IX/4B, para. 23; XIII/13, para. 24)
  • Collaborate with trading partners and neighboring countries, regionally, and with other countries, as appropriate, in order to address threats of invasive alien species, improve the coordination of regional measures to address transboundary issues through the development and implementation of regional standards, regional support for risk analysis and regional cooperation mechanisms, and incorporate invasive alien species considerations, including monitoring and reporting and notification of new threats, into regional agreements and other instruments, giving priority attention to geographically and evolutionarily isolated ecosystems, and use the ecosystem approach and precautionary and biogeographical approaches; (VI/23, para. 10(g); XII/17, para. 6(l); VIII/27, para. 59; VII/13, para. 6(a) and 6(c); V/8, para. 7; V/8, para. 8)
  • Increase communication, education and public awareness about the risks associated with the introduction of invasive and potentially invasive alien species, including through facilitating public participation in scientific research, monitoring and early warning systems, and targeted messaging towards quarantine, customs and other border officials as well as decision makers and practitioners in the freshwater, marine and terrestrial environment sectors, in particular in agriculture, aquaculture and forestry, and in the horticulture trade and pet trade, and more generally, in the transportation, trading, travel and tourism sectors that are potential pathways of biological invasions; (XII/17, para. 6(a); IX/4B, para. 25, 27; VIII/27, para. 13, 17; VI/23, para. 10(e); V/8, para. 9)

  • Develop financial measures, and other policies and tools, to promote activities to reduce the threat of invasive alien species, and introduce positive incentive measures for the prevention, mitigation, eradication or control of invasive alien species and the use of native species taking into consideration effectiveness in control and impact on the other native species in land and water management and other programmes; (VI/23, para. 12(b); VII/13, para. 6(f))

  • Take into account and build capacity to address how climate change affects the risks associated with the introduction, establishment, spread and impacts of invasive alien species; (IX/4B, para. 11)

IPBES (2023): Summary for policymakers of the thematic assessment of invasive alien species and their control

A. Invasive alien species are a major threat to nature, nature’s contributions to people, and good quality of life
  • More than 37,000 established alien species have been introduced by human activities, with new alien species presently being recorded at an unprecedented rate of approximately 200 annually. There exist more than 3,500 invasive alien species that have negative impacts, ranging from 6 per cent of all established alien plants to 22 per cent of all alien invertebrates. 20 per cent of all impacts are reported from islands.
  • Invasive alien species have contributed solely or alongside other drivers to 60 per cent of recorded global extinctions, and are the only driver in 16 per cent of the documented global animal and plant extinctions. The majority of documented global extinctions attributed mainly to invasive alien species have occurred on islands (90 per cent), and local extinctions account for 9 per cent of documented impacts of invasive alien species on islands.
  • In 2019, global annual costs of biological invasions were estimated to exceed $423 billion, 92 per cent of the global costs accruing from the negative impact of invasive alien species on nature’s contributions to people or on good quality of life, while only 8 per cent related to management expenditures of biological invasions. The benefits to people that some invasive alien species provide do not mitigate or undo their negative impacts, which include harm to human health (such as disease transmission), livelihoods, water security, and food security, with reduction in food supply being by far the most frequently reported impact (more than 66 per cent).
  • More than 2,300 invasive alien species are found on lands managed, used and/or owned by Indigenous Peoples across all regions of Earth, threatening their quality of life, often leading to general feelings of despair, sadness and stress. Impact reports by some Indigenous peoples and local communities document 92 per cent negative impacts and 8 per cent positive impacts on nature, caused by invasive alien species.
  • While most countries have targets related to the management of biological invasions within their national biodiversity strategies and action plans, effective policies are often lacking or inadequately implemented. 83 per cent of countries do not have national legislation or regulations directed specifically toward the prevention and control of invasive alien species. 45 per cent do not invest in management of invasive alien species. Differences in perception, including conflicting interests and values, of the importance and urgency of the threat of invasive alien species, coupled with lack of awareness of the need for a collective and coordinated response, as well as gaps in data and knowledge, can hinder management of invasive alien species. Economic development policies and policies targeted at managing other drivers of change sometimes facilitate biological invasions. Demographic drivers also facilitate the introduction and spread of invasive alien species while acknowledging that drivers differ across regions and level of impact. The lack of border biosecurity (such as the inspection undertaken by quarantine officers of commodities, goods, and people) in one country weakens the efficacy of such measures in other countries.

B. Globally, invasive alien species and their impacts are increasing rapidly and predicted to continue rising in the future
  • The number of alien species has been rising continuously for centuries in all regions, and global economic costs of invasive alien species have quadrupled every decade since 1970. Even without the introduction of new species, already established alien species given the opportunity, may continue to expand their geographic ranges into new countries, regions and ecosystems, including remote environments. Under a “business-as-usual” scenario, which assumes that trends of drivers will continue as observed in the past, by 2050 the total number of alien species globally is expected to be about one-third higher than in 2005. However, the number of alien species worldwide is expected to increase faster than predicted under the business-as-usual scenario.

C. Invasive alien species and their negative impact can be prevented and mitigated through effective management
  • The number and impact of invasive alien species can be reduced through management of biological invasions: management of pathways of introduction and spread of invasive alien species; management of target invasive alien species at either local or landscape scales; and site-based or ecosystem-based management. There are many sources of accessible literature and information, tools and novel and emerging technologies, including biotechnology, bioinformatics, eDNA, remote sensing, and data analytics, for supporting the management of biological invasions.
  • Prevention and preparedness are the most cost-effective options and thus crucial for managing the threats from invasive alien species. Prevention can be achieved through pathway management, including strictly enforced import controls, pre-border, border and post-border biosecurity, and measures to address escape from confinement. Preparedness includes border surveillance, early detection and rapid response planning, and is critical to reduce rates of establishment. Horizon scanning and risk analysis can support prevention and preparedness by prioritizing emerging invasive alien species.
  • Eradication has been successful, especially for small and slow-spreading populations of invasive alien species, especially in isolated ecosystems. Over the last 100 years, 88 per cent of eradication attempts on 998 islands have proven successful, especially for invasive alien vertebrates. Large scale eradications have been achieved but in many cases are likely to be infeasible. There are also examples of eradication of invasive alien plants and invertebrates, particularly for those with limited distribution.
  • Containment and control can be an effective option for invasive alien species that cannot be eradicated for various reasons in terrestrial and closed water systems but most attempts in marine and connected water systems have been largely ineffective. Physical control alongside and chemical control options in terrestrial and closed water systems are generally only effective at a local scale and can have non-target effects. Biological control can be applied for widely distributed invasive alien species and has been successful in managing some invasive alien plants, invertebrates and, to a lesser extent, plant pathogenic microbes and vertebrates but it may also have non-target effects if not well regulated. International standards and risk-based regulatory frameworks for biological control have been used in many countries to manage risks, and continue to be successfully applied.
  • The recovery of ecosystem functions and nature’s contributions to people can be achieved through adaptive management, including ecosystem restoration in terrestrial and closed water systems. In marine and connected water systems, ecosystem restoration has so far proved to be largely ineffective.

D. Ambitious progress to manage biological invasions8 can be achieved with integrated governance
  • Strategic actions to prevent introduction and impact of invasive alien species include: enhancing coordination and collaboration across international and regional mechanisms; developing and adopting effective and achievable national strategies; sharing efforts and commitment and understanding the specific role of all actors; improving policy coherence; broad engagement across all stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples and local communities; resourcing innovation, research and technology; and supporting information systems, infrastructures and data sharing.
  • International, national and local agencies involved in developing policies for the environment, agriculture, aquaculture, fishing, forestry, horticulture, border control, shipping (including biofouling), tourism, trade (including online trade in animals, plants, an other organisms), community and regional development (including infrastructure), transportation and the health sector can all play a role in developing a coherent approach to managing biological invasions and preventing and controlling invasive alien species.
  • The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework provides an opportunity for national governments to develop or update aspirational, ambitious and realistic approaches to prevent and control invasive alien species
  • Preventing and controlling invasive alien species can strengthen the effectiveness of policies designed to respond to other threats to biodiversity and contribute to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals
  • Open and interoperable information systems will improve the coordination and effectiveness of management of biological invasions, within and across countries
  • Public awareness, commitment and engagement and capacity-building are crucial for the prevention and control of invasive alien species
  • With sufficient resources, political will, and long-term commitment, preventing and controlling invasive alien species are attainable goals that will yield significant long-term benefits for people and nature. Increasing the availability and accessibility of information and means of implementation and addressing major knowledge gaps on biological invasions, particularly in developing countries, would result in more robust and effective policy instruments and management actions.