Biodiversity finance is the practice of raising and managing capital and using financial incentives to support sustainable biodiversity management. This includes private and public financial resources used to conserve biodiversity, investments in commercial activities that produce positive biodiversity outcomes, and the value of the transactions in biodiversity-related markets such as habitat banking. This is particularly important to the Philippines, one of 17 megadiverse countries with 228 recognized key biodiversity areas that are home to 855 globally important species of flora and fauna. The benefits and services that biodiversity provides cannot be overemphasized as Filipinos largely depend on it.
This and other issues, particularly on challenges confronting coral reefs, were discussed during the recently concluded 2018 Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium held in Cebu City on June 4-8, 2018. Dr. Andrew Seidl, Colorado State University Professor and former Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Senior Technical Advisor, emphasized the importance of financing for coral reef conservation and management. He pointed out the enormous financial burdens of continuing research and the need to address threats posed by illegal fishing, reclamation, pollution, harvesting of corals and associated species, along with coral restoration procedures that need to be undertaken.
“BIOFIN promotes a methodology, applicable at both national and sub-national levels, that emphasizes how policies and institutions promote or suppress economic drivers impacting on coral reefs, estimates expenditures patterns to detect policy alignment and determines the major costs associated with coral reef management” Dr. Seidl said. Application of the BIOFIN methodology would appear to be working, with Thailand applying island visitation fees and establishing a trust fund for Koh Tao island. The Philippines is also currently working on increasing public sector budgets, accessing earmarked funds, and localizing the BIOFIN process.
Annabelle Plantilla from BIOFIN Philippines spoke on mobilizing resources for the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP). She provided details on how the parties committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), of which the Philippines is a signatory, have prepared and are implementing their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans. The PBSAP is the country’s roadmap to conserve its biodiversity and achieve its vision that by 2028, biodiversity is restored and rehabilitated, valued, managed and secured effectively, while maintaining ecosystem services to sustain healthy and resilient Filipino communities and delivering benefits to all.
The estimated cost of PBSAP implementation from 2015 to 2028 is PhP 24 billion per year. However, a public and private expenditure review revealed that current government (including local governments) spending on biodiversity is only PhP 5 billion per year. This leaves a huge financing gap that needs to be closed. BIOFIN contributes to closing this gap by identifying, accessing, combining and sequencing sources of biodiversity funding to meet national needs.
Plantilla shared how the methodology was being applied at the subnational level in Mindoro and how payment for ecosystems services might work using the Koh Tao example. She also suggested additional finance solutions such as corporate giving, crowdfunding, and conservation license plates, and opportunities for non-BIOFIN countries to participate through the regional nodes.
To find out more about what BIOFIN is doing, visit its website at biodiversityfinance.net/Philippines or follow them on facebook.com/biofinph. (BIOFIN)
BIOFIN was initiated in response to the urgent global need to divert more finance from all possible sources toward global and national biodiversity goals, as highlighted during the 2010 CBD 10th Conference of Parties in Nagoya. The overarching objective of BIOFIN is to deliver a new methodological framework to facilitate the identification, development and implementation of optimal and evidence-based finance solutions for biodiversity conservation. BIOFIN is coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through a global team that develops and updates the BIOFIN methodology, supports its implementation in 35 countries, and develops capacities at national and global level on biodiversity finance.
The first phase of the initiative was implemented in 2012-2018 while the second phase is underway until 2022. #