UNEP Chief: Biodiversity financing gap estimated at $559-824 bn annually

UNEP Chief: Biodiversity financing gap estimated at $559-824 bn annually
بقلم Marwa Nassar - -

Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Inger Andersen said the massive financing gap for biodiversity stands between $559 and $824 billion annually as estimated by the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN).

Addressing the 5th BIOFIN Conference in South Africa, Andersen said the BIOFIN has been in existence for ten years and has done some really useful work. “But as with all successful initiatives, we need to ask the initiative to do more, because funding for biodiversity is woefully inadequate and there is so much more to be done.”

“We are well aware of the great BIOFIN work. BIOFIN has been working on the Biodiversity Expenditure Review and indeed, it is critical to understand what is going on at the national public expenditure level. BIOFIN has been undertaking policy and institutional reviews, which is obviously critically important. We need to know what policies are driving conservation and regeneration and restoration, and what policies are pulling in the other direction.  And BIOFIN has looked at financial needs assessments. Again, a critical priority,” she added.

“And indeed, financing and means of implementation was a key issue in the negotiations for the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in Montreal at the UN Biodiversity Convention COP15. Because we cannot succeed in our biodiversity ambition without adequate financing and without the domestic and global policy shifts that the framework calls for. And the truth is that we have been leaning on public finance for biodiversity investments for too long. We need to align our economies and our investments with the new Global Biodiversity Framework so that we can ensure that life on Earth as we know it can continue. So that we can save the very essence of Planet Earth as we know it!”

“Acknowledging imperfections in the previous Aichi targets, delegates in Montreal agreed on more meaningful and measurable targets. While there was a significant focus on the 30 by 30 target i.e protecting 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine environment by 2030, we also agreed on a number of other critical targets. On the restoration front, we agreed to have 30 percent of marine and terrestrial surface under active restoration by 2030 and we further agreed that by 2030, $30 billion should be available for biodiversity every year. These are great targets.  But let’s understand that biodiversity is not only in protected areas and in areas under active restoration. Biodiversity is, in fact, everywhere: in cities, in the farmer’s field, in fishing areas, everywhere – which is why we need to think much more holistically,” she said.

“And do not forget that we also said that by 2030, we want to see $200 billion flowing into biodiversity from all sources. We agreed that we would reduce invasive species by 50 per.cent. We agreed that we would reduce, at least by half, nutrients flowing into the environment. And we agreed that we would reduce by half the risk from pesticides and hazardous chemicals. All of these are very ambitious targets and we have only some 7 years to achieve them,” she highlighted.

“So, on this basis, therefore, we need to turbocharge BIOFIN so that in the public expenditure reviews, we take a critical look at biodiversity enhancing and biodiversity destroying policies to ensure that in all steps of the BIOFIN work, the targets of the Kunming-Montreal Framework provide a clear pathway and guardrails. Because we know that protecting biodiversity is not just putting fences around protected areas. Biodiversity is all life on earth. And biodiversity quite literally gives us the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, our very lives, in addition to our identity,” she said.

“Here’s a lot of work ahead of us, because financing has been woefully inadequate and we see many government policies drive in the opposite direction to biodiversity conservation. Financing needs to step up, and it is so commendable to hear Minister Steffi Lemke of Germany pledge €1.5 billion a year to biodiversity. But that’s one country. We need to see the global north showing this kind of commitment which could drive real biodiversity related results. Financing must be predictable, adequate, and accessible. And domestic policies— industrial, infrastructure-related as well as agriculture — must be cast with a view to being biodiversity and nature-positive so that we can indeed meet the promise to halt and to reverse biodiversity loss,” she added.

“And let us understand that security – I mean human health security – is part and parcel of the biodiversity story. We know that 75 percent of all zoonotic diseases emerge from the environment; they are based in and emerge from the wild,”she expounded.

“So, we need a system rethink. We need to understand that having gold in reserves in the basement vault at the central bank in a country is not going to help us the day we see ecosystems collapse. We need to talk about the banking system and what it does to underpin, or not, the safety of human life on this planet. Today, biodiversity is financed largely by the public sector. Indeed, 85 per cent of all funding to biodiversity originates from the public sector. So, we need to see much more from the private sector. This is why we are so proud of the UNEP-supported Taskforce for Nature-related Disclosures (TNFD). This work is critical. We want to see – we must see – private sector finance moving in this direction. Here, UNEP’s Finance Initiative is playing a critical role. And we at UNEP will continue to work to ensure that the Finance Initiative and BIOFIN are coordinated and connected,” she said.

“And so, now is a critical moment to step up. We have the pathway with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. But please recall that this is the third time we have agreed to a ten-year biodiversity plan. Let it not be the third time that we do not meet the targets. So, I must stress that everything, yes everything, we do through national policy, through financial policy and through enabling the levers for change must be looked at through the biodiversity lens,” she stressed.

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