Keynote Address by the UNDP Resident Representative, Jacinta Barrins at the First National Stakeholder Workshop on Biodiversity Finance

May 16, 2017

It is widely known that the beautiful nature of Botswana draws visitors from all around the globe every year, and that this nature is an important driver of economic growth. At the same time it is evident that more finance is needed in our country to effectively preserve these natural treasures, as well as maintain the necessary ecosystem services that benefit our people directly and indirectly.
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Biodiversity loss is a global challenge that needs the attention of each and every one of us – individually, locally, nationally and even globally. Several researches and studies have been undertaken world-wide and have revealed that the world faces unprecedented and irreversible losses of biodiversity. These trends 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.

According to the Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 as many examples of recent environmental successes illustrate, solutions for a sustainable future will require a wide range of deep societal transformations - there is no individual, simple policy tool available to address all of these challenges - there is still a lot of work to be done to address continued global biodiversity loss. With the current paradigm shifts in the development planning process including taking into consideration environmental cost as part of national accounts as well as issues of greening the economy and advocating for clean development, it has become imperative for governments, development partners and indeed donors to be prudent in the use of available finances to ensure sustainability in development as a tool towards concerted and pronounced environmental management.

In recognition of these losses and the immeasurable value of biodiversity and ecosystems in sustaining human life, 193 of the world’s governments, Botswana inclusive, agreed 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 UNCBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020. Thereafter, several countries, including Botswana, have embarked on developing and reviewing their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP). 

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 mobilise more financial resources. This is where BIOFIN provides a platform for countries to jointly develop and test a newly developed methodology. Starting in 2012, BIOFIN has already developed a basic framework through the BIOFIN workbook, which was released in 2014 and further reviewed and launched last year at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP 13 in a more user friendly version.

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Botswana ratified the UNCBD in 1995, prepared and submitted its first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in 2004, with its latest revision in 2014, which I am informed will be launched shortly. Some of the biodiversity issues that the country is faced with include habitat destruction, conversion and disturbance as a result of changes in land use, barriers to wildlife movement due to agricultural practices and disruption of the fire regime, veld fires, pollution and climate change. We are no exception of the implementation challenge of the biodiversity strategies and the reviews point to inadequate resources as a key impediment.

Botswana is one of the countries that are piloting the BIOFIN methodology and commenced implementation in 2014.  The first part of this project, which involves assessment of the country’s policy and institutional architecture, expenditures and the finance gap as regards biodiversity, have been concluded, the results of which will be shared with you during the course of the day. The project is now progressing with the last two parts which involves development of a mix of solutions that the country can adopt, and possibly pilot the implementation of some.

This is one of the collaborative efforts between the Government of Botswana and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on biodiversity work. This project builds on the support that UNDP has provided to government on the development and review of the NBSAP, the implementation of several other projects, including those financed through the Global Environment Facility (GEF). These are a clear sign of the strong partnership between the UNDP and the government. However, I wish to underscore the need for the partnership to grow and bring on board other stakeholders, in particular, non-state actors to assist the country in achieving its biodiversity commitments.

Important to note is that the results of the assessments indicate existence of good policies and strategies for biodiversity management, however lack of implementation in some areas result in biodiversity loss. The results also attest that while the government and other actors have invested significantly on biodiversity protection, the other areas of mainstreaming, restoration, sustainable use and access and benefits sharing are still lagging behind. Capacity issues (inadequacies in human, financial and infrastructural resources) are also eminent. Botswana requires a total of P832.8 million, approximately P90 million per year, is required over the next 9 years for the implementation of biodiversity strategies. Robust resource strategies, therefore, are required to ensure achievement of our targets. This workshop therefore, marks the commencement of a series of engagement platforms that the UNDP will provide, to bring together the different actors in biodiversity to dialogue on issues of resourcing biodiversity management and sustainable development.

We jointly face the challenge in making a case for further investments in biodiversity, to show it is a cost-effective investment rather than just a cost, and that investments in biodiversity help to not only protect nature and improve livelihoods, but have an impact on all aspects of our wellbeing, including improving food security, making us more resilient to disasters and helping identify sustainable agricultural practices that will benefit future generations.

Let me conclude on the following points: a) we need continued strategic dialogue and innovative partnerships on biodiversity issues; b) let us propose, adopt, implement, monitor, evaluate and report on a mix of finance solutions for biodiversity and sustainable development; c} build capacities for implementation of our strategies.

Let me extend appreciation to the Government of Germany and other partners for their continued work in supporting efforts to address environmental challenges in general across the globe.

With that, I wish you successful deliberations throughout the workshop and declare it officially open.