Rose Niu Talks Financing Nature at Resource Mobilization for Biodiversity Webinar

On March 31, 2021, Rose Niu (Chief Conservation Officer, Paulson Institute) joined an expert panel discussing the vital topic of biodiversity. In her remarks, Niu focused on the economic case for financing biodiversity and resource mobilization to address the biodiversity crisis–drawing from PI’s landmark Financing Nature report.

The Resource Mobilization for Biodiversity webinar opened the space to discuss how to scale-up finance for biodiversity and achieve a better alignment of investments and policies with the combined needs of nature and people.

The SBI debate is not where it should be. It is very much about the small Official Development Assistance category. What we have done today is bringing the debate where it should be. We need a lot more of that.” —Basile Van Havre, Open-Ended Working Group co-Chair

In its opening statement, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), David Cooper, called to three actions drawn out of the resource mobilization panel of experts’ report issued in 2020: reduce and redirect resources causing harm to biodiversity, augment resources for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use and enhance the effectiveness of resource use for biodiversity.

He stressed that the post 2020 global biodiversity framework will need to send clear signals to mobilize funding and help public policy to create enabling environment, lead investments in nature-based solutions and disclose risks and impacts on nature.

As Pr. Dasgupta indicated, we are undermining nature and the consequences on our societies and economies are huge. We are looking forward for COP15 to galvanize action.” —David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

The webinar was later divided in two sequences, followed each by questions and answers by participants.

The first part introduced a state-of-the-art as to three recent reports and tools on resources mobilization, and provided an overview of enablers for catalyzing aligned ambitions and implementation at various levels.  The Paulson Institute report “Financing nature: closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap” demonstrated that only half of this gap could be reached through green practices scale-up across the financial sector. Showcasing the need to complete it with reform to harmful subsidies to biodiversity and increased public financing, it called on all CBD parties to complete their financial plans by 2024 and establish incentive policies and regulatory framework by 2030.

Closing the US$ 711 billion biodiversity financing gap relies on governments to reform harmful subsidies, reduce investment risk, & support financial innovations to increase capital flows towards biodiversity protection.” —Rose Niu

Pointing to the same direction, the AFD reported that rather than focusing on conservation finance and official development assistance (ODA), the only reasonable way to close the gap is to strongly and more reliably make all financial flows biodiversity positive, including COVID-19 recovery and nature negative public spending. Drawing on the conclusions of the report “Investing in Nature” showing that every dollar spent on biodiversity is matched by 6 dollars spent for activities that destroy biodiversity, the strategic role of the public sector in establishing the enabling environment and incentivizing green investments needs to be completed with increased engagement from financing institutions, and enhanced communication between them and the biodiversity arena.

Official Development Assistance is only a small portion of the efforts needed to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. 80% of the problem is really about greening economies and aligning financial flows” —Gilles Kleitz, Agence Française de Développement

The World Bank presented ideas as to how manage private finance mobilization for biodiversity, including through environmental fiscal reform, national data provision, disclosure requirements (TNFD), stacking finance with climate change benefits, integrating nature in carbon offset and market schemes. Particularly to remove perverse incentives as a lot of them are hidden, the agenda of reducing them should go beyond financial flows and into institutional factors. For instance, 30% of deforestation relates to commodities, and 30% to agriculture.

Taking those projects with positive impacts on nature, usually financed at a loss, and mobilizing the resources and technologies to make an economic return from them is what we call Financing Green.” —Giovanni Ruta, Senior Environmental Economist, World Bank

In the second sequence, the panelists shared experiences on good practices and challenges, and provided insight on enablers for transformative change. It showcased practical examples of successful initiatives towards budget alignment for integrated resource management, as role model for truly green recovery plans mobilizing stakeholders at all levels, and highlighted recent efforts to align climate finance with biodiversity funding needs.

Just as COVID has put the relationship to nature and weaknesses in economic systems and population vulnerable has become evident, the African Development Bank has reacted, convinced that Africa’s ability to implement change is rooted in biodiversity and that COVID-19 must be used as a justification for mainstreaming biodiversity.

To make green recovery plans biodiversity positive we must stop actions with negative biodiversity impact, increase biodiversity-positive actions incl. via climate finance and raise awareness among investors and regulators.“ —Gareth Philips, Division Manager Climate Finance, African Development Bank

In India, the YES Bank has developed an inspirational business model putting natural capital, climate change and biodiversity at the core of its strategy. This later relies on innovative products such as green bonds, strong community engagement with farmers and school work on the SDGs and natural capital conservation, and cooperation as the only bank member of the Natural Capital Finance Alliance. The bank has succeeded in delivering both environmental and social benefits to its population, leading biodiversity-positive financing.

We remain committed to developing an appropriate regulatory infrastructure, disclosure mechanisms, and reporting measures to integrate, value, and account for natural capital.” —Arnesh Sharma, Yes Bank

Finally, the government lead initiative HECO implemented with WWF Colombia provided another successful financial model focused on long-term management of protected areas, which managed to reduce its financial gap by diversifying public revenue and attract private investments by promoting community business enterprising.

A proven model for conservation Impact to fill the biodiversity financing gap includes integration in non-financial decision-making, disclosure requirements on risks, impacts and opportunities, and appropriate taxonomies.” —Sandra Valenzuela, Operations, Partnerships and Business Development Director, WWF Colombia

As closing remarks, the Post 2020 Open-ended Working Group co-Chair and Inès Verleye called to embracing a broader and more integrated approach to the complex issue of resource mobilization across the Global Biodiversity Framework negotiation process. One that will require strengthened collaboration between all actors (local and national, public and private, etc.), well-beyond the mere address of financial flows, and dedicated targets to redirect negative incentives and tackle all stakeholders’ aspects.

There are lots of options and solutions, if there is knowledge and political will, collaboration among actors. Resource mobilization is a combination of factors, that should be discussed and reflected in the COP15 set of targets.” —Inès Verleye

The webinar recap was originally posted on the Expertise France website.