- Representatives of 185 countries officially agreed to launch a new fund to ramp up investment to nations in meeting goals outlined in the Global Biodiversity Framework.
- So far, Canada and the U.K. announced initial contributions to start the fund’s capitalization, contributing $146.8 million (CA$200 million) and $12.58 million (£10 million), respectively.
- Targets include about 20% of funds to support Indigenous and local action to protect and conserve biodiversity and at least 36% of the fund’s resources to support the most vulnerable people, small island developing states, and least developed countries.
- Some human rights and environmental activists are calling for more contributions needed to operationalize the fund and firm commitment to allocate funds to Indigenous groups.
Yesterday, representatives of 185 countries officially agreed to launch a new fund to ramp up investment in meeting major global biodiversity goals.
The new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) was ratified at the Global Environmental Facility’s (GEF) seventh assembly in Vancouver, Canada, with wildfires in British Columbia as a backdrop. This comes after global delegates at the U.N. biodiversity conference (COP15) committed last December in Montreal to meet a set of goals inked into a Global Biodiversity Framework. This framework is designed to help halt and reverse biodiversity loss and put nature on a path to recovery by 2030.
The fund will mobilize and accelerate investment from governments, philanthropy, and the private sector to support nations in the conservation and sustainability of wild species and ecosystems. These are threatened by wildfires, flooding, extreme weather, and human activity, including unsustainable industrial agriculture, consumption and urban sprawl.
According to an in-depth assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, in 2019, one million species of plants and animals face extinction.
“The creation of this biodiversity fund is a game-changer for countries’ ability to protect, restore, and ensure the sustainable use of nature,” said Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and chairperson, in a meeting last month.
So far, two countries announced initial contributions to start the fund’s capitalization and support budget-stressed industrially developing countries, many of which are some of the most highly biodiverse in the world. This included $146.8 million (CA$200 million) from Canada and $12.58 million (£10 million) from the United Kingdom.
Canada’s Minister of International Development also announced the country is providing an additional $16.75 million (CA$22.8 million) in funding for the GEF’s eighth replenishment to support global efforts to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
As much as 20% of funds from the GBFF is targeted to support Indigenous and local action to protect and conserve biodiversity, and at least 36% of the fund’s resources are aimed to support the most vulnerable people, small island developing states, and least developed countries. About 25% of the fund will be delivered through selected international financial institutions to increase resources through private sector involvement and ensure policies are streamlined.
Indigenous organizers around the U.N. biodiversity convention, known as the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), welcomed the target of 20% of funds directed to Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). Indigenous organizations frequently report being sidelined in receiving biodiversity and climate funds.
“The approval of this trust fund with a specific commitment to Indigenous peoples and local communities motivates and gives us hope that support will be achieved for the efforts to conserve biodiversity at local level,” said Lucy Mulenkei, co-chair of the IIFB and member of the Indigenous advisory group to the GEF, while speaking at the assembly.
The Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in Montreal last year recognizes the role and rights of IPLCs in the conservation of biodiversity in their lands and territories. Several targets also highlight their full and equitable participation in decision-making in the implementation of the framework.
This fund also provides an increase of support to the least developed countries and small island developing countries who are among the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of biodiversity loss and climate change.
To meet the ambitious biodiversity targets, countries need a substantial increase in resources, as was recognized by COP15 and in related decisions on resource mobilization and the financial mechanism. The Montreal agreement seeks to raise international financial flows from developed nations to developing countries to at least $20 billion per year by 2025 and to at least $30 billion per year by 2030. However, this is far shorter than the total some industrially developing countries desired, with some parties like the Democratic Republic of Congo calling for a total of $100 billion a year.
Agreement on these financial matters, from the amount of funds allocated to how they should be distributed, was the most difficult part of the negotiations in Montreal.
The GBFF will provide an opportunity to receive funding from all sources quickly disburse through streamlined procedures, said David Cooper, acting executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in a statement.
Additional resources will need to be mobilized from domestic sources at all levels of government, the private sector, and innovative mechanisms.
“We are off to a good start. We now call for further pledges from countries and from other sources so that the first projects under the new fund can be launched next year ahead of COP 16 [the next U.N. biodiversity conference],” he said.
While some human rights and environmental activists welcome the first commitments to the GBFF, they say contributions so far fall short by $40 million to make the fund operational. The initial contributions for the GBF Fund are set at $200 million from at least three donors by December 2023, while current contributions by Canada and the U.K. total approximately $160 million.
The GEF Council should also take immediate action to allocate these funds to Indigenous groups to continue conserving biodiversity, said Avaaz, a global human rights group, in a statement. In addition, these pledges should turn any “aspirational” share of funding for Indigenous groups into a firm target of the agreed 20% share.
The GEF’s seventh assembly ends on August 26 and delegated may convene again in four years.
Over the past three decades, the GEF has provided more than $22 billion and mobilized $120 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 national and regional projects.
Banner image: A lemur leaf frog in Costa Rica. Photo: Rhett Butler/Mongabay.
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