Annex A. International agreements relevant to mainstreaming biodiversity into renewable energy infrastructure

Achieving sustainable development requires governments to address multiple and interlinked policy challenges, including improving energy access and security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and reversing biodiversity loss. These policy challenges are embodied in the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by UN members in 2015, which lays out 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs), and a plan to achieve them. The SDGs are “inter-related” and “indivisible”; achieving sustainable development requires governments to deliver across all 17 goals. As potential synergies and trade-offs exist across the SDGs, effective implementation of the 2030 agenda demands policy coordination and coherence. Five SDGs are particularly relevant to mainstreaming biodiversity into the energy sector:

  • SDG 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, which includes a target (7.2) to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the final energy consumption,

  • SDG 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation,

  • SDG 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts,

  • SDG 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,

  • SDG 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity.

With the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, governments committed to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century. In their Nationally Determined Contributions, countries communicate the actions they will take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with these goals. Countries are also invited to submit long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, which provide a longer-term horizon to NDCs, in line with achieving climate neutrality by mid-century.

With electricity, heat and transport accounting for just under three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions (WRI, 2020[1]), transforming the energy sector is pivotal for achieving the Paris Agreement goals. A large increase in renewable energy infrastructure, primarily for electricity generation, is a core part of this transformation. However, at the same time, countries note in the Preamble of the Paris Agreement “the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity […] when taking action to address climate change”. Efforts are therefore required to ensure renewable energy expansion is conducted in a way that protects biodiversity.

Increasing attention on the international policy agenda is given to the importance of not just increasing the quantity of infrastructure investment, but also its quality. In 2019, the Osaka Leaders’ Declaration of the Group of Twenty (G20) endorsed a set of six voluntary Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment to provide the G20 with common strategic direction and aspiration (Group of Twenty, 2019[2]). The underlying aim is “to maximize the positive economic, environmental, social, and development impact of infrastructure and create a virtuous circle of economic activities, while ensuring sound public finances.” Principle 3 Integrating Environmental Considerations in Infrastructure Investments is of particular relevance to mainstreaming biodiversity into infrastructure. The principle states that:

Both positive and negative impacts of infrastructure projects on ecosystems, biodiversity, climate, weather and the use of resources should be internalized by incorporating these environmental considerations over the entire process of infrastructure investment, including by improving disclosure of these environment related information, and thereby enabling the use of green finance instruments.

The G20 principles followed the adoption of the five Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment by the Group of Seven (G7) in 2016 (G7, 2016[3]). Principle 3 of the Ise-Shima Principles is Addressing social and environmental impacts emphasises that quality infrastructure investment must consider and address social and environmental impacts of infrastructure projects, including through environmental safeguards that are in line with international best practices.

The OECD works with the G7, G20 and OECD members to support the implementation of Quality Infrastructure. For example, the OECD Compendium of Policy Good Practices for Quality Infrastructure Investment (OECD, 2020[4]) compiles and provides a unique set of existing integrated and multidisciplinary international good practices and measures relevant to policy makers and practitioners to pursue quality infrastructure investment. These good practices promote a shared understanding of the elements needed to support quality infrastructure investments in alignment with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment and in accordance with international standards.

The Compendium is complemented by the OECD Implementation Handbook for Quality Infrastructure Investment (OECD, 2021[5]). While the Compendium is a policy guidance tool, the Handbook is an analytical and operational tool, focussing on selected major issues and challenges, including integration of environmental considerations.

The OECD Council Recommendation on Governance of Infrastructure (OECD, 2020[6]) was adopted by the OECD Council in 2020. It is a non-binding legal instrument that provides a tool to assist governments to invest in infrastructure projects in a way that is cost effective, affordable and trusted by investors, citizens and other stakeholders. The recommendation highlights the need for a long-term strategic vision for infrastructure that considers international commitments on environmental protection and the need for environmental considerations in project appraisal, environmental impact assessments and stakeholder engagement that ensures debate and oversight on main environmental impacts.

The OECD Council Recommendation concerning the Reduction of Environmental Impacts from Energy Production and Use (OECD, 1976[7])was adopted in 1976 and remains in force today. While some of the recommendations are specific to fossil fuels, many of them are equally relevant to renewable energy infrastructure. For example, the Council

Recommends that Member countries, in the planning and implementation of their energy and environment policies, ensure that: i) Environment policies and energy policies are integrated, both at the formulation stage and the implementation stage; ii) The public is objectively informed and its views are sought; iii) Land use planning is employed, which takes into account environmental protection goals.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (est. 1992) has three objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. Achieving these objectives requires biodiversity to be mainstreamed across various policy areas, which is reflected in Articles’ 6 (b), 10 (a) (c), 14, 11, 7 (c) and 8 (l) of the Convention Text and the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), particularly targets under Strategic Goal A.

Subsequent decisions on mainstreaming were adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, notably Decisions XIII/31 and XIV/32. Decision XIV/3, focuses on the energy sector and infrastructure (in addition to mining, manufacturing and processing sectors), inviting governments as well as public and private entities to include approaches to conserve biodiversity in investment decisions, for example, through strategic environmental assessments and integrated spatial planning, and to review and use existing policies and tools to promote biodiversity-related sustainable production and consumption in these sectors. The decision also establishes a long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming (LTAM) and an informal advisory group, of which OECD is a member, to advise on the further development of the LTAM proposal.

Despite the emphasis given to mainstreaming and progress made by some countries, biodiversity mainstreaming remains insufficient to halt and reverse current trends in biodiversity loss (Diaz, S. et al., 2019[8]). None of the twenty Aichi Targets were fully achieved by 2020. While six targets were partially achieved, none of them were the mainstreaming targets (Aichi Targets 1-4) (SCBD, 2020[9]). Increasing efforts to mainstream biodiversity will therefore be vital for delivering on goals and targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Signatories to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), also known as the Bern Convention, have adopted a number of Resolutions directly relevant to mainstreaming biodiversity into energy infrastructure, focusing in particular on addressing the potential impacts on migratory species. These include Resolutions 7.4 Electrocution of Migratory Species, 7.5 Wind Turbines and Migratory Species, 10.11 Power Lines and Migratory Species, 11.27 Renewable Energy and Migratory Species 12.21 Climate Change and Migratory Species.

Resolution 11.27 endorsed guidelines on Renewable Energy Technologies and Migratory Species: Guidelines for Sustainable Development, and urges Parties and non-Parties to the CMS to implement them. Additionally, the Resolution instructed the Secretariat to convene a multi-stakeholder Task Force on Reconciling Selected Energy Sector Developments with Migratory Species Conservation (the Energy Task Force) to support and promote the implementation of the guidance and decisions, and complement them as required. Relevant guidelines and resolutions have also been adopted by other CMS Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding, such as the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS), and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

The Ramsar Convention is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resource. Signatories to the convention adopted Decision XI.10 Wetlands and energy issues, which covers both renewable and non-renewable sources of energy (COP11 Ramsar, 2012[10]). The Decision was adopted in recognition that some energy activities have direct and indirect adverse impacts on the ecological character of wetlands. Among other things, the Decision invites contracting parties to develop ecological impact criteria to inform energy generate site selection relating to wetlands and to apply such criteria, for example as part of Strategic Environmental Assessments, to guide energy development. The Decision also endorses annexed Guidance for addressing the implications for wetlands of policies, plans and activities in the energy sector.


[10] COP11 Ramsar (2012), Resolution XI.10 Wetlands and Energy Issues, (accessed on 19 July 2022).

[8] Diaz, S. et al. (2019), Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, Bonn, (accessed on 6 September 2019).

[3] G7 (2016), G7 Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment,

[2] Group of Twenty (2019), G20 Osaka Leaders Declaration,,for%20the%20benefit%20of%20all.

[5] OECD (2021), OECD Implementation Handbook for Quality Infrastructure Investment,

[4] OECD (2020), OECD Compendium of Policy Good Practices for Quality Infrastructure Investment.

[6] OECD (2020), Recommendation of the Council on the Governance of Infrastructure OECD/Legal/0460, (accessed on 21 September 2021).

[7] OECD (1976), Recommendation of the Counicl concerning the Reduciton of Environmental Impacts from Energy Production and Use,

[9] SCBD (2020), Global Biodiversity Outlook 5.

[1] WRI (2020), Climate Watch, The World Resources Institute,


← 1. Strategic actions to enhance the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including with respect to mainstreaming and the integration of biodiversity within and across sector.

← 2. Mainstreaming of biodiversity in the energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing sectors.

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