Sustainable development and sectoral policies

BirdLife promotes sustainable management of our planet and its natural resources so as to secure a future for birds, biodiversity – and humanity.

Addressing unsustainable practices is crucial as it tackles the root causes of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. The economic, social and ecological dimensions of sustainability are closely linked, and the ecological sustainability pillar underpins social sustainability, which in turn underpins economic sustainability. BirdLife’s strategic focus is on the ecological dimension.

BirdLife undertakes a wide range of policy and advocacy work to integrate sustainability and sustainable practices across a number of sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, energy, mining and climate. BirdLife is also active in ensuring biodiversity criteria for safeguards, as well as assessment of ecosystem services, investment needs for conservation, and the importance of nature for human health and well-being.


Advocating  for the values of nature

Nature is extremely valuable, both in its own right and because of the many goods and services it provides for people. These values are often taken for granted, in part because they are not well understood and can be difficult to calculate in economic terms. This needs to change. BirdLife works to show clearly how nature both has intrinsic value and fundamentally underpins our livelihoods and well-being. BirdLife is working to ensure that nature is fully incorporated and mainstreamed in political and corporate accounting and decision-making. BirdLife is promoting policies: that ensure the long-term provision of ecosystem services,  working to ensure any decisions are underpinned by biodiversity conservation; that encourage sustainable patterns of production and deter wasteful consumption, and integrate externalities such that decisions reduce dangerous climate change.


Rio+20, the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which took place in Brazil in 2012, was a historic conference which marked the 20 year anniversary of the Earth Summit "United Nations Conference on Environment and Development" in 1992, which resulted in many of the international mechanisms essential to the policy work of BirdLife, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - See more at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/about.html#sthash.w4cW928a.dpuf
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - See more at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/about.html#sthash.w4cW928a.dpuf
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - See more at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/about.html#sthash.w4cW928a.dpuf

BirdLife called on governments attending Rio+20 to demonstrate global leadership to redirect the global economy towards sustainable pathway limits. We urged governments to mainstream consideration of nature across policy formulation and decision-making processes, and to ensure that biodiversity considerations were included within all relevant outcomes of Rio+20.  Read our full message to world leaders.

The Conference resulted in a document "The Future We Want", which called for the development of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and also the creation of Sustainable Development Goals which would be global in nature.


A green economy in the context of sustainable development

BirdLife advocates for a genuinely ‘green economy’ to be framed on the basis of the following principles:

  • To have at its centre the principles of sustainable development as outlined in Agenda 21;
  • To deliver all three pillars of sustainable development (social, environmental and economic);
  • To be in harmony with nature, and respect environmental limits;
  • To be characterised by low-carbon development and resource efficiency, which reflects the true value of the environment to human wellbeing;
  • To recognise the crucial underpinning provided by biodiversity and ecosystem services, and thus the fundamental importance of nature conservation to economic prosperity and poverty eradication;
  • To use the effective solutions that are offered by nature to many global challenges, including water, food security and climate change;
  • To support globally agreed goals across the Rio Conventions, particularly the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which are essential for the achievement of sustainable development;
  • To encompass the marine environment (the ‘blue economy’) ensuring ecologically sustainable fisheries, the conservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of vital ecosystem services.

The Post 2015 development processes

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are set to end in 2015, and many are still along way from being achieved.  There must be concerted effort to make as much headway as possible before their end-date.  The processes which follow the MDGs has yet to be decided, with the continuation of the MDGs and the development of the SDGs being debated side by side.

At Rio+20 and the SDGs, and within the debate on the Post 2015 development process, BirdLife is calling on governments to redirect the global economy towards a sustainable pathway. We urge governments to mainstream consideration of nature across policy formulation and decision-making processes. BirdLife encourages governments to adopt a single integrated framework for the Post-2015 process.

Harmful and perverse incentives

BirdLife also calls on Governments to phase out and redirect harmful and perverse incentives that act to undermine sustainable development (such as overfishing, the extraction of fossil fuels and harmful agricultural subsidies). These preverse incentives are significant drivers of habitat loss and degradation, and also habitat fragmentation; failure to address them will continue to undermine conservation efforts.


Policy positions and briefs

BirdLife input to Post 2015 consultation, December 2012

Policy news