To prepare for challenging discussions about biodiversity financing mechanisms ahead of negotiations in India later this year, the SwedBio Programme at the centre took the initiative to organise a dialogue seminar.
Entitled Scaling up Biodiversity Financing, the seminar was held 6-9 March in Quito, Ecuador, and was formally convened by the governments of Sweden, Ecuador, Norway, India and Japan, together with the Covention on Biological Diversity. Maria Schultz, head of SwedBio, represented Sweden while Mr. MF Farooqui from India co-chaired the meeting.
Informal, but carefully prepared
The intention with the seminar was not to draft formal recommendations, but to enhance understanding among participants ahead of upcoming negotiations in India, at COP11. The seminar included a mix of keynote presentations, case studies and small group discussions.
Participants included some 80 representatives from governments, development agencies, UN organisations, non-governmental organisations, social movements, farmer organisations, local communities and indigenous peoples organisations, scientists and the private sector, all with experience of financial resources mobilization for biodiversity.
The dialogue led to several interesting insights:
- The dialogue seminar had contributed to better understanding of differing viewpoints and that there was much to build upon in the coming negotiations.
- There was convergence around many issues, including the overall approaches to the challenges of scaling up biodiversity finance.
"This seminar shows that through an informal but carefully prepared dialogue, it is possible to reach an understanding despite different viewpoints among a very diverse group of actors," says Maria Schultz.
Money and the rights of Mother Nature
One of the questions that motivated the seminar was that of the "rights of Mother Nature", presented by some Latin American countries. In this worldview, monetary valuation of nature and nature's goods and services is not reconcilable with the way the nature is viewed. This issue was discussed during the seminar and monetary valuation became further clarified, with more nuanced understandings.
"The purpose with Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is not to assign a price tag to nature. The purpose is to compensate the landowner for the opportunity cost of biodiversity management," says centre researcher Thomas Hahn, who gave two presentations at the seminar.
Institutional framework and capacity building
If we are to reach the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, a set of targets agreed upon after the 2010 Nagoya CBD COP10, commitments need to be several times bigger than they are today. Different kinds of biodiversity financing mechanisms are needed to boost available funding.
A large part of the financing is needed to tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable consumption and trade and unsustainable agriculture and harmful subsidies. These drivers span over many different sectors which need to be involved. Targeting the drivers of biodiversity loss may also reduce the overall financing needed to reach the biodiversity goals.
"The success of biodiversity financing mechanisms depends on political, institutional, social and cultural aspects. Countries and communities should have the right to choose and develop mechanisms that fit their specific context," says Maria Schultz.
Governments are currently the primary provider of funds and fiscal reforms such as taxes are cost-effective instruments to generate resources. However, the business sector also has an important role to play in safeguarding biodiversity, both as agents for change and as a source of taxation.
For this development in business to take place there is a need for clear norms and regulations, incentives and disincentives, to ensure appropriate behavior and protect public interest.
"Economic incentives can play an important role in reaching the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Furthermore, governance and institutional frameworks are critically important for all financing mechanisms," says Schultz.
Download seminar report here (pdf, 4.7 MB)(pdf, 5 MB)
Download Spanish version of the report here (pdf, 3.3 MB)