Invasive Alien Species


The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has recognized that there is an urgent need to address the impact of invasive alien species (IAS), and established IAS as a cross-cutting issue at its fourth meeting. The decision of COP 6 included adoption of Guiding Principles for the Prevention, Introduction and Mitigation of Impacts of Alien Species that Threaten Ecosystems, Habitats or Species (decision VI/23).

The Guiding Principles are:

  1. Precautionary approach;
  2. Three-stage hierarchical approach;
  3. Ecosystem approach;
  4. The role of States;
  5. Research and monitoring;
  6. Education and public awareness;
  7. Border control and quarantine measures;
  8. Exchange of information;
  9. Cooperation, including capacity-building;
  10. Intentional introduction;
  11. Unintentional introduction;
  12. Mitigation of impacts;
  13. Eradication;
  14. Containment; and
  15. Control.

At COP 7 (2004), it was decided that “specific gaps in the international regulatory frameworks at global, regional and national levels persist, notably in relation to species that are invasive, but do not qualify as plant pests under the regulations of international agreements”, with regard to the following pathways:

  1. The use of non-native organisms in aquaculture and the restocking of marine and inland water systems for commercial and recreational fisheries taking into account contributions of national codes, and voluntary international efforts such as Codes of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms developed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas and the FAO Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries;
  2. Unintentional or opportunistic introductions (e.g., "hitchhiker organisms"), including through hull-fouling, packaging material, import consignments, vehicular transport and other means;
  3. Unintentional introductions of invasive alien species through international assistance and humanitarian programmes, tourism, military, scientific research, cultural and other activities;
  4. Intentional introductions of alien species for non-food purposes, including certain aspects of horticulture and trade in pets and aquarium species;
  5. Intentional introduction of alien species, as biocontrol agents for control or eradication of invasive alien species, pests or weeds;
  6. Transnational and national ex situ breeding projects with alien species as sources for intentional or unintentional introduction;
  7. Intentional introduction of invasive alien species through international assistance programmes, including conservation and development projects and other activities;
  8. Intentional introduction of potentially invasive alien species through international incentives schemes; and
  9. Introduction of alien species through aquaculture escapes, bait and pet releases, water transfer schemes.

The decision of COP 8 identified measures by which Parties, other governments, relevant organizations and the Executive Secretary should address identified pathways for invasive alien species.

The work on invasive alien species under the Convention will be reviewed in-depth at COP 9 in 2008.

For more information, consult the pages on COP decisions and CBD documents.