At UN Biodiversity Meeting, Agreement on Funding is Essential

Two years ago at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Nagoya, Japan, 192 countries agreed on an ambitious set of targets for the next decade to protect biodiversity in hopes of averting the current extinction crisis. Now it’s time to take the next step: figuring out how to pay for these critical actions.

 A zebra in Kenya. Wildlife tourism brings in significant revenue for Kenya's economy.

A zebra in Kenya. Wildlife tourism brings in significant revenue for Kenya’s economy. (© CI/photo by Gina Buchanan)

Collectively, the 20 goals known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a master plan for sustaining biological diversity and the essential ecosystem services — from erosion prevention to air quality regulation — which are the foundation for sustainable development and human well-being. One of the most notable targets determined at the Nagoya meeting is the protection of 17% of the world’s land and 10% of marine ecosystems (up from 13% and 1% in 2010, respectively) by 2020.

At this year’s CBD meeting in Hyderabad, India — the first major meeting since Nagoya — the key negotiation will be about how to pay for achieving the Aichi Targets by 2020. This involves agreeing on how much is currently being spent on biodiversity conservation all over the world, how much more we are going to need and where those funds will come from.

Answering these questions is tougher than you might expect; estimating the cost of achieving the Aichi Targets is a complex task, and calculating how much we are currently spending is complicated by poor tracking of biodiversity spending in national budgets.

The U.K. and India have sponsored a study to try to determine how much money we need. The panel that conducted this study — which included CI Vice President and Senior Advisor for Global Policy Carlos Manuel Rodriguez and CI Board Member Pavan Sukhdev — has estimated that achieving these goals will cost somewhere between US$ 1.2 trillion and 3.44 trillion.

We also have pretty good information on how much official development assistance (ODA) from developed countries goes toward protecting biodiversity in developing countries: between 2006 and 2010, the average was about US$ 5 billion per year.

The India meeting will be the first real negotiation that countries have on these issues, so we haven’t seen a lot of position statements yet. We’re optimistic that everyone will recognize the need and importance of achieving the Aichi Targets, but we do expect that there will be tensions over where any additional funding should come from.

Developed countries — called “donor” countries in the case of ODA — will probably prefer to focus on generating funds for biodiversity conservation from “innovative mechanisms” such as payment for ecosystem service schemes like REDD+. Others — mainly developing countries — will resist this approach because of the untested and potentially uncertain nature of generating funding from these sources.

CI’s position (developed with The Nature Conservancy, WWF and BirdLife International) is that we need an immediate increase in ODA and domestic spending to move us towards the scale of financing and action that we need.

Specifically, we are calling for:

  • An annual increase of 20% in ODA, adding up to US$ 99 billion by the end of 2020; and
  • An annual increase of 10% in all national budgets for protecting biodiversity — US$ 382.4 billion by the end of 2020.

This may sound like a lot, particularly in a time of economic crisis. However, it’s a modest investment that pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in benefits we currently derive from biodiversity —and the higher cost we will have to pay later if we fail to protect it now.

For the next two weeks, I will join CI staff from nine countries in Hyderabad. In addition to serving in a general advisory capacity for government representatives, some members of CI staff will serve on the national delegations of their native countries, including Costa Rica, Madagascar and Ecuador.

Lina Barrera

Lina Barrera

Stay tuned on the blog for updates on this meeting.

Lina Barrera is the director of biodiversity and ecosystem services policy in CI’s Center for Conservation and Government.


  1. Pingback: CBD: Seeking to protect 10% of Marine Ecosystems | The TerraMar Project – The Daily Catch

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