The Biodiversity Finance Initiative(BIOFIN)-Mobilising Resources for Biodiversity and Sustainable Development

Jun 5, 2015

1st Regional Workshop for Africa, 3 - 5 June 2015

UNDP Botswana in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism with the support of the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Global Team based at the UN Headquarters held the first regional workshop for Africa in Gaborone on 3rd - 5th June 2015. The main aim of the workshop was to take stock of progress in the core countries and share knowledge on challenges and best practises. The workshop was attended by approximately 40 participants from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Seychelles and Rwanda, countries taking part in the piloting of the initiative.

The Biodiversity Finance Initiative aims to develop and pilot a methodology for quantifying the biodiversity finance gap at the national level. The purpose of the methodology is to improve cost-effectiveness through mainstreaming of biodiversity-related issues into national development and sectoral planning. The initiative will also assist with the development of comprehensive national resource mobilising strategies to support implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).

When welcoming guests, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, underscored Government of Botswana’s recognition of the importance of biodiversity management towards development in both the socio-cultural and economic arena. He indicated that a total of 45% of the country, which is a large area, has been set aside for conservation, and that management institutions have been effected, capacities, relevant laws and regulations as well as strategies have been developed. All these were done in the quest for sustainable management of biodiversity. He further highlighted that the BIOFIN comes at a time when Botswana has completed the review of her National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and therefore hopes that BIOFIN will assist in the mobilisation of additional resources for implementing the strategy.
In his opening remarks, the UN RC, also UNDP Res Rep. noted that biodiversity loss is a global challenge that needs every one’s utmost attention – individually, locally, nationally and even globally. He highlighted that the trends in biodiversity loss have profound implications for human welfare, particularly for the world’s poorest communities who depend disproportionately upon biodiversity and ecosystem services for the basic necessities of life, and who also bear disproportionate vulnerability and risk from the impacts of climate change. These changes, he said, led to an agreement by 193 of the world’s governments in 2010, to an ambitious set of 20 targets for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefits sharing – the Aichi Targets – as part of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity Strategic Plan 2011 – 2020. He indicated that what is less clear is how much governments are actually spending on biodiversity now and how much will be expended in the future; how much money we need to really safeguard our biodiversity and ecosystems; and most importantly, what are the most effective ways to mobilize more financial resources. This, he said, is where BIOFIN provides a platform for countries to jointly develop and test a newly developed methodology. BIOFIN has already developed a basic framework through the BIOFIN workbook, which was released in Pyeongchang, in the Republic of Korea last year at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Twelfth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 12).

He finally indicated that almost all countries face the challenge in making a case for further investments in biodiversity. He stressed on the need  to show it is a cost-effective investment that can help to not only protect nature and improve livelihoods, but have an impact on all aspects of our wellbeing. This includes improving food security, making us more resilient to disasters and helping identify sustainable agricultural practices that will benefit future generations.

For his part, the Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany to Botswana, His Excellency Rolf Ulrich acknowledged that the maintenance and protection of biodiversity across the globe is of global importance and has been recognized since 1992, which led to the Environment summit, signing of the Convention on Biodiversity and subsequent related protocols. He indicated that while much has been done to protect the environment, it has not been sufficient in preventing a further shrinking of biodiversity in the past 20 years, which represents a major environmental crisis besides climate change. He echoed that it is true that industrialized countries shoulder a particular responsibility to address the problem as they command more financial resources and have been “sinners” in the past.

He highlighted that in 2012, member states to the CBD agreed to double their efforts and resources of the previous years, dedicated to maintaining and protecting biodiversity up to 2015 and to keep on that level, at least until 2020. He added that in this vein, the German government committed to dedicate €500 million annually to further the protection of biodiversity in developing countries. He appreciated that the German government has partnered with the European Union, the UNDP and other countries in the Europe to substantially support the BIOFIN initiative. He emphasized the need to establish the financial and other resource needs of a sustainable policy to protect biodiversity by convincing political decision makers of the costs and benefits of smart and successful protection and investment.

The workshop attendants were capacitated on the different components of the BIOFIN. Other countries who are ahead in the implementation of the initiative, presented their findings and shared experiences. 
In their deliberations during the workshop, countries indicated that they were at the initial stages of implementing the BIOFIN initiative as well as development and review of their NBSAPs. Countries presented challenges such as delayed recruitment of consultants to undertake the different components of the methodology due to unavailability in the market, delayed conclusion on the placement or housing of the initiative (ownership amongst different partners), inadequate capacity (knowledge, skills and abilities) of the methodology. The absence of concrete synergies amongst partners implementing other related initiatives such as WAVES, SEEA, TEEB and PEI was also cited as an impediment to implementation.

At the end of the workshop, it was resolved that for the initiative to realize its objectives, the Project Coordinators have to ensure that a stakeholder analysis and mapping is done to ensure that all the relevant stakeholders are on board. This will go a long way in ensuring that there is ownership of the initiative and that synergies are formed for optimum use of resources as well as best results.

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