Countries focus on finance as they move to implement biodiversity targets

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Hyderabad

As the meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) opened in Hyderabad India today, finance was the key topic on everyone’s lips.

Following the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, focus has moved away from policy design and towards discussions on implementation.

But you cannot have implementation with finance.

“Having adopted the Strategic Plan and the Nagoya Protocol we are now at a critical crossroads,” said Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment and Forests in India and COP11 chair.

During the open plenary countries called for the mobilisation of resources and the implementation of COP10 outcomes

“In this year, of the 20th Anniversary of the CBD we need to agree on a roadmap on the Strategic Plan and the Nagoya Protocol. None of us want to announce that which was announced in 2010; that the biodiversity targets had not been met.

“Resource mobilisation is the biggest unfinished agenda passed over from COP10…If this one chance is missed it will be our collective failure and it will leave us without any hope of achieving the 2020 targets, some work on finance must be decided here.”

The Nagoya Protocol aims to support benefit sharing of genetic resources amongst countries.

Since its adoption in 2010, only six countries have fully ratified the deal, and Natarajan called on Parties of the Convention to ensure the agreement is fully ratified before the next COP meeting to be held in 2014.

The second agreement reached at COP10 was for an international Strategic Plan on Biodiversity. The convention sets out 20 targets – the Aichi Targets – that drive the plan and aims to halve biodiversity loss by 2050.

An EU report into biodiversity loss found that 11% of the world’s ecosystems that existed in 2000 could be lost by 2050 and 40% of low impact agricultural land could have been converted into intensive agricultural use – causing more biodiversity loss.

They also predict 30% of the world’s corals could be lost by 2030.

“To halt biodiversity loss a better, more effective and targeted process is required. This cannot happen without resources,” said Amina Mohamed, Deputy Director of the UN Environment Programme.

“Biodiversity funding for the many countries that are in financial crisis may seem too high. But we know from research that the costs of inaction are much greater than the costs of action.”

Countries agreed. In their opening statements of COP11 Argentina, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) and Syria for the Asia Pacific Group both said limited financial capacity was the biggest barrier to sustainable development.

The EU and Croatia added to this point saying that resource mobilisation goes beyond direct finance. It said a much bigger contribution could come from mainstreaming biodiversity and mobilising and streamlining existing funds.

For example, subsidies for agriculture, which are given out in countries across the globe, could be targeted at farmers who promoted conservation and set aside a certain percentage of fields for this aim.

Progress at COP11

UNCBD chief Braulio Souza de Dias called on Parties to fully implement or at least make significant progress on at least half of the Aichi Targets during the next fortnight.

He said parties should look to implement reforms on damaging economic incentives, and create or expand financial mechanisms for promoting biodiversity. He also called for the promotion of sustainable production and consumption methods.

Finally he said, progress should be made on Target 20 which aims to mobilise finance to support the implementation of the Aichi Targets.

He told delegates that this should be seen as an opportunity.

“Yes, we are seeing a financial crisis, but times of crisis are the best opportunities to make substantive changes in the way we do business,” he said. “Expenditures on biodiversity should not be seen as costs – they should be seen as investments that will pay back with significant environmental, social and economic benefits for all societies.”

More from COP11:

Indian Environment Minister calls for rich-poor partnerships to boost sustainable development

UN Biodiversity Chief calls for new way of “doing business”

WWF reminds nations of promises on environmental finance

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