Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu – Experts from 20 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Pacific gathered here on September 11, 2018 to debate effective solutions, and share experiences and best practices in biodiversity conservation financing. In an effort to close the significant gap in resources needed to conserve nature properly and the resources it provides, governments across the region are implementing finance solutions that can fit into a particular country’s economic and natural context.
In the Philippines, a strong partnership between the government and UNDP's Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) has been formed and, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), are implementing several finance solutions to address the huge financing gap, estimated at PhP19 billion (USD349 million) annually.
DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Atty. Jonas Leones underscored the importance of sustainably managing Philippines’ biodiversity.
“If we want to continuously benefit from biodiversity, we all need to work together, not just for ourselves, but ultimately for the benefit of our future generations,” he said.
He emphasized that conservation is not only “a burden for the environment sector alone, but a task that all sectors need to work on collaboratively.”
Congresswoman Josephine Ramirez-Sato, BIOFIN legislative champion and lawmaker, said that biodiversity protection is a shared problem that affects people all over the world and it is crucial to bring about better policies for biodiversity conservation.
“We are beginning to understand why we need to urgently win the fight for biodiversity conservation and preservation. We need decisive leadership across government, private sector, and communities. If we are to stand a chance in seeing our biodiversity flourish, we need to go beyond business as usual," she said.
Congresswoman Sato is a key proponent of the recently enacted Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act and other BIOFIN bills such as the Malampaya Fund Bill and the Philippine Genetic Resources Access and Benefit Sharing (PGRABS) Bill.
The ENIPAS Act ensures secure sources of funding for 94 new protected areas in the Philippines. This allows better conservation management of diverse natural capital and rich ecosystems found across the country.
Globally, the annual financing need has been estimated to be between US$150 and US$440 billion. This funding gap, evident in both developed and developing countries, is a major challenge, hampering our achievement of both the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Strategic Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals. However, it represents between just 0.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent of the estimated US$73 trillion of global GDP.
BIOFIN offers a new methodology to improve the integration of biodiversity into fiscal policy, financial planning, and the financial system at both the national and subnational levels. It supports countries to implement a suite of appropriate finance solutions tailored to the local context and works directly with governments, private sector and civil society to advocate for better finance for nature.
“With significantly increased fiscal space and very high levels of domestic liquidity, financing for biodiversity should not be a challenge in middle income countries like the Philippines," said UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra
"Rather the challenge is to create an appreciation of the fact that financing biodiversity conservation is an investment that generates both a public good and a financial return. We perhaps more readily appreciate the aesthetic value of biodiversity and less well appreciate the wealth that can be created from the genetic resources and ecosystem values of well-managed biodiversity areas,” he said.
Onno van den Heuvel, Programme Manager of BIOFIN, highlighted the importance of practitioners from countries with similar challenges and opportunities coming together to learn from each other.
“Learning from country experiences and best practices in biodiversity financing helps countries improve how they mobilize new resources, realign existing resources, prevent future costs, and improve delivery of existing finance for biodiversity conservation,” he said. (BIOFIN/ Angelique Ogena)