New guidance on tourism concessions for protected areas released

All CBD logos 2 Sept

  • Guidelines help protected area authorities develop concessions and partnerships allowing them to contribute financially and technically to conservation
  • Many countries currently underuse tourism as means to contribute to the financial sustainability of protected areas.

14 September 2017 – The Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today released a new publication titled Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development.

Cover CBD 2 Sept 2017Designed to support protected area authorities and the private sector in their development and use of tourism partnerships and concessioning to contribute financially and technically to biodiversity conservation, the guidelines are geared towards protected area authorities, ministries of environment and tourism, policy experts and interested enterprises. The aim is to enhance the level of financial resources available for conservation management obtained from tourism concessions and partnerships

The tourism sector is recognized as being the largest global market-based contributor to the financing of protected area systems in many countries. In 2014, the Conference of the Parties to the CBD noted that, under appropriate safeguards, tourism can contribute to protected areas through partnerships and concessions. However, most countries currently underuse tourism as a means to contribute towards the financial sustainability of protected areas. The new guidelines aim to assist countries in addressing this gap.

Dr. Cristiana Paşca Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary, said: “This ground-breaking publication supports a decision by Parties to the Convention to build the capacity of national and subnational park and protected area agencies to engage in partnerships with the tourism sector to complement public budgetary allocations towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.” The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a set of 20 time-bound, measurable targets to be met by the year 2020.

Prepared in the framework of an agreement between the CBD Secretariat and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and released at the 22nd Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization General Assembly (UNWTO) in Chengdu, China, the publication includes information on the fundamentals of tourism, different tourism partnerships, financing concessions, a step-by-step guide to concession processes, integrating sustainability, contract management and concession capacity requirements.

The guidelines were developed as part of a project called “Tourism partnerships and concessions in protected areas: Cooperating for success”, executed on behalf of the CBD Secretariat by three members of the Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group) of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas: Dr Anna Spenceley, Dr Sue Snyman, and Professor Paul Eagles.  Government representatives from the ministries of tourism and environment, protected area agencies, and tourism boards in Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe contributed to the guidelines. Representatives of the CBD, International Finance Corporation, UN World Tourism Organisation and other members of the TAPAS Group also provided input.


Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of the TAPAS Group, said: “Our collaborative guideline development process has resulted in an informative tool that builds on previous experience and guidance, and is practical and easy-to-use, which is relevant for protected area managers. We are proud to contribute this advice in the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

Funding for the project was provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and by the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Bio-Bridge Initiative. The publication also serves as a contribution to the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10YFP).

An initiative contributing to


Available online: “Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development”


For more information:

Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of the TAPAS Group,
Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS):
World Tourism Organization:
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):
10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme:

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 196 Parties so far, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing are supplementary agreements to the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol, which entered into force on 11 September 2003, seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 171 Parties have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and to date has been ratified by 101 Parties. For more information visit: For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at


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