Info Service on Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge (Oct14/05)
9 October 2014
Third World Network
Financing - a simple matter of keeping promises
Published in SUNS #7890 dated 9 October 2014
Pyeongchang, 7 Oct (IPS/Stella Paul) -- With governments, activists
and scientists tearing their hair out over the world's impending crisis
in biodiversity, the outgoing president of the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) delivered a simple message to participants at the
12th Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP12) currently underway
in the Republic of Korea's northern Pyeongchang county: honour the
promises you made last year.
Speaking to IPS on the sidelines of the meeting, running from October
6-17, Hem Pande, chairman of the Biodiversity Authority of India,
which has held the presidency of the Conference of the Parties for
a year, said finance continues to be a weak link in global efforts
to safeguard the earth's fragile ecosystems, with parties failing
to deliver on their pledges.
Pande recalled that at the 11th meeting of the parties (COP11), held
in the South Indian city of Hyderabad in October 2012, states had
promised to double funding for conservation by 2015.
However, after two years, this promise remains largely undelivered.
Unless countries keep their word, it will be difficult to make significant
progress in achieving the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed upon
at a meeting in Nagoya, Japan, in 2011, the official added.
"There is a huge requirement for financing resources. The budget
for environmental conservation is ever shrinking. It's time for the
parties to walk the talk," Pande told IPS.
Countless issues are calling out for an injection of monetary resources:
from coastal clean-up projects and scientific research to public awareness
campaigns and livelihood alternatives, conservation is a costly undertaking.
According to an estimate by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an annual
expenditure of 200 billion dollars would be required to meet all 20
of the CBD goals for 2020, including eliminating harmful subsidies,
halving the rate of ecosystem destruction, sustainably managing fisheries,
increasing protected areas, restoring 15 percent of the world's degraded
ecosystems, and conserving known endangered species.
Thus the agreement to boost funding was one of the most celebrated
outcomes of COP11. Using a baseline figure of the average annual national
spending on biodiversity between 2006 and 2010, developed countries
had said they would double their giving by 2015.
Although no numbers were put on the table, observers expected that
a doubling of the resources then would mean around 10-12 billion dollars
Now, as the convention does its mid-term review, it appears that figure
is far from becoming a reality.
Paul Leadly, lead author of ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook 4' (GBO-4),
a progress report on global efforts towards the Aichi Targets released
here Monday, acknowledges that finance is "definitely insufficient."
"The good news is there is a slight increase in the funding.
The bad news is, it's not anywhere near doubling the amount,"
he told IPS.
According to him, given the current slowdown in the global economy,
it is difficult to say how nations will fulfill their promises in
another two years.
"It doesn't help that a lot of countries are not [doing] very
well financially. For example, in Brazil, there is economic stagnation,"
Others believe the global financial climate should not act as a deterrent
to swift action on conservation and environmental protection.
Countries like India have allocated substantial amounts of state funding
to the conservation effort, in the hopes of leading by example.
"Since 2012, we have been spending two billion rupees [about
32.5 million dollars] each year just on managing and maintaining our
biodiversity hubs such as our national parks and sanctuaries [...].
We have reported this to the CBD as well," Pande claimed, adding
that all 191 parties to the convention are bound to do the same.
Although the budget allocation to India's ministry of environment
and forests has seen a decline from 24 billion rupees (391 million
dollars) in 2012-13 to 20.4 billion rupees (325 million dollars) this
year, Pande says the combined total budgets of all ministries involved
in the conservation effort - including departments that oversee land
restoration, soil conservation, water, fishers and ecological development
- represent a sum that is higher than previous years.
Still, India is just one country out of nearly 200. Given that international
agreements on biodiversity are not legally binding, no country can
be "forced to pay", so holding parties accountable to their
financial commitments is no easy task.
Pande also said that a large number of governments had not submitted
their national reports to the CBD in time, resulting in inadequate
data in the GBO-4 regarding finances and financial commitments.
Mobilising resources will be a major topic at the meeting currently
underway in Korea. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary
of the Convention on Biological Diversity, told IPS that an expected
outcome of COP12 was a clear resource mobilisation strategy to tackle
the dearth of funds.
Another factor to keep in mind is that state parties can increase
allocations for biodiversity conservation efforts without necessarily
making huge investments.
One of these "non-economic" ways of generating the necessary
resources, according to Leadly, is to end subsidies.
"Governments are spending so much money on providing subsidies:
in agriculture, fuels, fisheries, fertiliser. Ending those subsidies
doesn't cost money. In fact, [governments] could use that money for
other things, like channelling it into conservation of biodiversity,"
Leadly pointed to India's on-going efforts to phase out subsidies
of synthetic fertilisers as an example others could follow, adding,
"If you look at China, their fertiliser is massively subsidised,
which is not matching the needs of their crop plants. But political
will is needed."
Some states do appear to be prioritising the issue: Thailand this
year added 150,000 dollars to its annual budget in order to jumpstart
forest conservation, Guatemala has earmarked 54 percent of its national
budget to biodiversity efforts (amounting to some 291 million dollars),
Namibia spends about 100 million dollars a year on similar endeavours,
while Bangladesh and Nepal have allocated 360 and 86 million dollars
* This article was written and distributed by IPS news agency.
It was published in SUNS #7890 dated 9 October 2014. We thank
IPS and SUNS for our re-distributing this article.