Given that IAS are essentially related to trade and human mobility, it is essential to improve regional and global cooperation. The NEPAD-EAP sets the basis for such cooperation in Africa. The opportunities it presents are complemented by the development of sub-regional organizations throughout Africa which focus on harmonizing trade, customs and immigration policies and practices. These institutional arrangements are discussed in Chapter 1: The Human Dimension.

These specific African initiatives are complemented by various global responses, in which Africa and other developing regions have played an important role. There is a gamut of different agreements dealing with different aspects of IAS that are relevant in terms of controlling their movement and possible invasive nature. These range from the multidimensional CBD, to the conservation framework of MEAs concerned with migratory species and the aquatic environment, to biosafety laws, to sanitary and phytosanitary measures, to transport, and to trade.

Box 9: Convention on Biological Diversity

Article 8(h) of the CBD calls on Parties as part of in situ conservation measures and as appropriate to:

“Prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.”

Source: UN 1992

Since 1992, the CBD along with Agenda 21 has set the general global framework for addressing the problems associated with IAS. The CBD recognizes the need for conservation and development as well as the close relation between them. The approach of the CBD is based on Article 8(h) of the Convention (see Box 9), and encompasses all IAS which threaten biodiversity, whether or not they remain under human control. Under this broad definition, alien plantations may also be considered to fall within the ambit of the Convention (Shrine and others 2000). The CBD provides the basis for taking preventative and mitigation measures to address the full range of threats posed by IAS to genetic diversity, species diversity, ecosystems and habitats.

Through the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP), a comprehensive framework for addressing these problems has been developed. The CBD has developed a sequenced approach to managing IAS (Shrine and others 2000). At the 2000 Conference of the Parties (COP), parties agreed:

  • To give priority to preventing entry of IAS within and between states; and
  • Where entry has already taken place to prevent the establishment and spread of such species.

The COP identified the eradication of such invasives as the preferred response and, where this is not feasible, the adoption of cost-effective, containment and control measures. This approach is echoed in MEAs for protecting migratory species, as well as those concerned with coastal and marine environments, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.

Aquatic environments may be extremely vulnerable to IAS and eradication of such species more difficult than in terrestrial habitats. Consequently, there has been a strong focus in multilateral law on preventative measures for marine and coastal environments.

In the management of IAS, partnerships between different sectors and disciplines, as well as between the public and private sectors, is acknowledged as important. The Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) is an initiative closely linked to the CBD and is a partnership which seeks to build global cooperation. It brings together several international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as IUCN and the Nature Conservancy, scientists including those from IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group, DIVERSITAS and its International Programme of Biodiversity Science, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, South Africa’s National Botanical Institute, local projects involved in IAS eradication and control such as Working for Water in South Africa, and the United Nations Environment Programme.

The GISP has proposed 10 strategic responses to control IAS; these are (IUCN 2001):

  • Building management capacity at national and international levels;
  • Building research capacity using cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches;
  • Sharing information to, among other reasons, alert management agencies to potential dangers of new introductions;
  • Developing economic policies and tools;
  • Strengthening national, regional and international legal and institutional frameworks;
  • Instituting a system of environmental risk analysis;
  • Building public awareness and engagement;
  • Preparing national strategies and plans;
  • Building IAS issues into global change initiatives; and
  • Promoting international cooperation.