The investment required to conserve and restore global ecosystems has been far less than what is needed. To discuss strategies and opportunities to bridge this financing gap, the United Nations Development Programme’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (UNDP-BIOFIN) hosted the 5th Global Conference on Biodiversity Finance in Cape Town, South Africa, from May 9-11, 2023. The conference brought together over 180 experts and government members from 45 countries to emphasize the importance of both government and private sector involvement.
A Global Challenge
According to a study conducted in 2020 by the Nature Conservancy, the Paulson Institute, and Cornell University, approximately $950 billion per year is needed to restore and protect global ecosystems. However, only $121 billion is spent annually on biodiversity conservation. The conference highlighted the need to address this issue.
The conference explored various biodiversity financing opportunities, such as finance sector engagement, positive incentives, impact investment, repurposing harmful subsidies, and community engagement. Delegates from different countries shared insights and experiences, aiming to inspire more action to conserve life and nature globally and emphasize the need for collaboration among various stakeholders.
South Africa’s Biodiversity and Challenges
South Africa is the world’s third most biodiverse nation, with nearly 100,000 known species of plants and animals. However, the country faces challenges such as water scarcity, loss of biodiversity through unsustainable economic practices, poaching, and inadequate financing for protected areas expansion. The conference emphasized the need for creative but practical finance solutions to help the country meet the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework targets and all biodiversity-related United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
BIOFIN, established in 2012, is a global initiative supporting the development and implementation of national Biodiversity Finance Plans. The Kunming-Montreal agreement, adopted in December, includes 23 targets to be met by 2030. The targets involve repurposing subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion yearly, mobilizing $200 billion in annual domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from public and private sources, and raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries by at least $30 billion yearly.
Over the past 11 years, BIOFIN has expanded its network to 41 nations covering biodiversity-rich regions across Africa, Europe, South and Central America, and the Asia-Pacific Region. In South Africa, BIOFIN successfully enhanced investments into businesses that conserve nature by establishing a government-owned Biodiversity Investment platform, offering technical assistance to improve business proposals and facilitate negotiations with investors.
Call to Action
The conference emphasized the urgent need for actions from both the government and the private sector to conserve biodiversity and close the gap for nature financing. It highlighted the importance of linking biodiversity and climate financing, repurposing harmful subsidies, and reforming global financial systems.
The 5th Global Biodiversity Finance Conference served as a platform for experts and government members to collaborate, share experiences, and inspire more action to close the financing gap and conserve biodiversity. Initiatives like BIOFIN will depend on effective engagement with policymakers, the private sector, and communities worldwide. The conference highlighted the need for ongoing collaboration, dialogue, and innovation to achieve the ambitious goals set forth in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and to protect our planet’s precious ecosystems for generations to come.