Biodiversity financing

September 19, 2023

The Global Biodiversity Framework Fund has been established at the recently held Global Environmental Facility Assembly in Vancouver, Canada. The purpose of the fund is to support the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to stop biodiversity loss by 2030 and move nature towards the path of recovery by 2050.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted during COP15. Canada and the United Kingdom announced initial contributions of 200 million Canadian dollars and GBP10 million respectively. The fund aims to collect $200 billion in annual funding from resource-rich countries and other public and private resources by 2030.

Biodiversity on our planet is facing multiple challenges and is under threat of extinction. It is important to realize that climate change in the form of floods, forest fires, droughts, etc is an existential threat to not only humans but also animals, insects, and plants.

According to the WWF, Australian forest fires in 2019-2020 killed or displaced three billion animals. Similarly, the devastating floods of Pakistan in 2022 cost a loss of $3.725 million in agriculture, food, livestock, and fisheries, 24.99 per cent of the total loss. Still, it is difficult to measure the exact loss of biodiversity as a result of the floods in Pakistan.

The second important reason for the loss of biodiversity is population explosion. Rapidly increasing population puts more burden on resources. To meet the demands of a growing population, countries expand urban and rural areas to develop residential areas and grow the agriculture sector to accommodate the needs of human habitation and food requirements. This process leads to the elimination of forest cover.

Reduction in forest cover is directly proportional to reduction in biodiversity. According to the UK’s Royal Society, “between 1962 and 2017, it is estimated that 340 million hectares of new croplands were created globally and 470 million hectares – around half the area of China – of natural ecosystem were converted into pastures.”

The United Nations Environment Programme also says that agriculture is one of the primary drivers of biodiversity loss, “being the identified threat to 24,000 of the 28,000 (86 per cent) species at risk of extinction”. Other causes for endangered biodiversity include invasive species, overhunting, disease breakout, etc.

The impacts of biodiversity loss are huge for the socio-economic wellbeing of our planet. Loss of biodiversity can have direct negative impacts on humans’ livelihood and living styles.

Biodiversity plays an important role in providing food and other nutrients to all living organisms. It maintains soil health and ensures the availability of enough ingredients to harvest healthy crops and livestock for commercial purposes. Any threats to biodiversity can lower the economic activities of a nation and create political turmoil.

Many species of flora and fauna are utilized for medical treatments and are extensively used by pharmaceutical companies. Their extinction can lead to failure to prevent many fatal diseases and can create health crises. Nitrogen is an essential component for plants and animals’ health. Biodiversity also plays an important role in the transmission of nitrogen in a usable form for sustaining life on the planet. Many microorganisms are crucial for the decomposition of waste.

In the absence of such organisms from our ecosystem, our planet would be covered with piles of waste. There will be no place left for human settlements and food production. It is also equally important to maintain the natural food chain of our ecosystems.

A healthy ecosystem is also dependent on a balanced number among different species of plants and animals in an ecosystem. Many animals and plants are interlinked in this food chain. For example, grass is eaten by a grasshopper; a grasshopper is eaten by a snake and a snake is eaten by an eagle. If the snake is eliminated from this food chain, grasshoppers will be produced in abundance and eat all the grass on the surface of the earth.

Similarly, loss of biodiversity is the cause of the spread of many zoonotic diseases. The habitat of many animals is lost due to the exploding population and reduced forest cover. As a consequence of this, contact between humans and animals increases and causes the spread of many zoonotic diseases. Many viruses like monkeypox, Covid-19, Ebola, and dengue are zoonotic.

The creation of the Biodiversity Fund is an important step to ensure survival and sustain the health of our ecosystem. However, the true success and future of this fund depends on the mobilization of the projected targets of funding by 2030 and their effective utilization.

There are many other funds including the Green Climate Fund and the Loss and Damage Fund, which are still waiting for the promised amount from rich nations. It is also crucial to support indigenous people to protect biodiversity according to their priorities.

The allocation and distribution mechanism of money for various areas of biodiversity and among different nations will also determine the efficient utilization of this fund to achieve its objectives.

The writer is a graduate of University of Oxford in Public Policy. She tweets/posts zilehumma_1