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Annex 1: Malawi Principles for the Ecosystem Approach

In a Workshop on the Ecosystem Approach (Lilongwe, Malawi, 26-28 January 1998), whose report was presented at the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Bratislava, Slovakia, 4-15 May 1998, UNEP/CBD/ COP/4/Inf.9), twelve principles/characteristics of the ecosystem approach to biodiversity management were identified:

(1) Management objectives are a matter of societal choice.
(2) Management should be decentralized to the lowest appropriate level.
(3) Ecosystem managers should consider the effects of their activities on adjacent and other ecosystems.
(4) Recognizing potential gains from management there is a need to understand the ecosystem in an economic context, considering e.g. mitigating market distortions, aligning incentives to promote sustainable use, and internalizing costs and benefits.
(5) A key feature of the ecosystem approach includes conservation of ecosystem structure and functioning.
(6) Ecosystems must be managed within the limits to their functioning.
(7) The ecosystem approach should be undertaken at the appropriate scale.
(8) Recognizing the varying temporal scales and lag effects which characterize ecosystem processes, objectives for ecosystem management should be set for the long term.
(9) Management must recognize that change is inevitable.
(10) The ecosystem approach should seek the appropriate balance between conservation and use of biodiversity.
(11) The ecosystem approach should consider all forms of relevant information, including scientific and indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices.
(12) The ecosystem approach should involve all relevant sectors of society and scientific disciplines.

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