- The 15th Convention on Biological Diversity meeting (COP15) established a new Global Biodiversity Framework for action through the year 2030.
- The Global Environment Facility then launched the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund to finance the execution of the new agreement.
- “The fund’s success will be measured by its impact on biodiversity conservation, making a strong focus on achieving measurable impacts crucial,” a new op-ed argues.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
In recent decades, escalating threats to global biodiversity have led to urgent calls for international intervention. COP15, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in December 2022, established a new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) for action through the year 2030. One issue consumed extensive deliberations and debates: Who will financially support the ambitious goals of the GBF?
In response, during its Seventh Assembly in Vancouver, Canada, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) officially launched the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBF Fund), which Canada and the United Kingdom committed to contribute to, CAN$200 million and £10 million respectively. This “game-changing” instrument is intended to support the financing of the execution of the widely acclaimed GBF. Its success will depend on the degree to which the GBF Fund can function efficiently and equitably, and improve on lessons learned in global environmental funding to date.
The biodiversity financing gap
The GBF is aimed at addressing the critical issue of biodiversity loss and features four long-term goals for 2050 and 23 targets for urgent actions to achieve by 2030. It represents a significant milestone in global efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and protect ecosystems. The GBF was developed through a series of negotiations and consultations involving governments, conservationists, civil society organizations, groups representing Indigenous and local communities, and other stakeholders.
However, the CBD Secretariat has warned that the current biodiversity finance gap is “700 billion dollars per year.” In order to bridge this financing gap, a drastic increase in capital mobilization is pivotal for implementing the framework. The 19th target focuses on the funding challenge, aiming to mobilize at least $US 200 billion per year by 2030. This involves:
- Boosting biodiversity related funding from developed countries to developing countries to at least $US 20 billion per year by 2025, and at least $US 30 billion per year by 2030
- Enhancing domestic resource mobilization, leveraging private finance and promoting other innovative finance
- Forging partnerships with diverse stakeholders, such as civil society, Indigenous and local communities
- Prioritizing resource use effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.
Target 19 thus laid out ambitious financing targets – targets which the GBF Fund is being established to facilitate.
GBF Fund origins and next moves
Major disagreement surrounded the specific mechanics of operating the GBF Fund. The task of raising and distributing funds for the GBF, also referred to as “resource mobilization,” has proven challenging. On December 14th, in the second week of COP15 in Montreal, representatives of over 60 global South countries walked out of negotiations over a lack of progress on the issue. One of their demands was to establish a GBF Fund outside of the GEF framework.
The GEF is a multilateral fund established in 1992 to serve multiple UN environmental initiatives (climate change, desertification, biological diversity, mercury, and organic pollutants), making it a cornerstone of global environmental action. But numerous developing countries have complained that it is substantially under-resourced, expected to facilitate too many different environmental actions, and imposes bureaucratic requirements on recipients that prove especially onerous for poorer parties to the CBD. By the close of COP15, parties agreed to a GEF-housed fund, but its relationship with the GEF and ability to mobilize more funds and distribute them more efficiently and equitably will be a subject of close scrutiny.
COP15 closed with a contentious – but ultimately settled – agreement to a GEF-housed fund for the GBF. While details are still forthcoming, broad plans to establish the GBF Fund were agreed upon during the 64th Council Meeting of the GEF in Brazil in June 2023. It was subsequently launched in Vancouver as part of the Seventh GEF Assembly. The first GBF Fund council is set to convene in January 2024 according to the fund establishment timeline presented by GEF official Chizuru Aoki.
The GBF Fund is expected to play a significant role in funding the GBF implementation. It is also anticipated to be a part of the ninth comprehensive evaluation of the GEF, planned to commence in 2028 and wrap up by 2030. Furthermore, a global review of the GBF’s implementation is scheduled for the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) in 2026.
In essence, the GBF Fund is an innovative step by the GEF towards ensuring robust financial support for the successful implementation of the GBF to improve our protection and conservation of biodiversity.
As the GBF Fund moves ahead, several key opportunities and challenges lie on its path. A central strategic objective is maintaining a continuous review and optimization process through the CBD. The CBD will conduct a stocktake review during its 18th meeting that is essential for the fund’s ongoing refinement by measuring its effectiveness, rate of progress, and ease of use.
The GBF Fund is also expected to bolster its work through cooperation with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). This collaboration could draw upon the financial resources and technical expertise of MDBs, enhancing the GBF Fund’s capability to deliver on its commitments and filling the existing funding gaps beyond the capacity of government funding alone. Future ratifications of the fund will further validate its role and increase its impact in the global community, following decisions made at the GEF Council meeting.
Transparency and accountability are to be prioritized to maintain stakeholder trust and credibility. This will require frequent and open reporting of activities, accomplishments, and challenges. Furthermore, stakeholders including governments, civil society organizations, Indigenous and local communities, and the private sector must be involved to ensure diverse perspectives inform the GBF Fund’s work and meet the needs of different groups.
The GBF Fund should foster a culture of innovation and learning, seeking new ways to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency. This could include the adoption of innovative financing mechanisms and the use of technology to improve its operations. In the end, the fund’s success will be measured by its impact on biodiversity conservation, making a strong focus on achieving measurable impacts crucial. These steps are intended to guide the fund’s future strategy and operations, helping it to fulfill its critical role in funding biodiversity conservation worldwide.
The GBF Fund is a significant step towards achieving global biodiversity goals. As we look to the future, the GBF Fund will continue to play a crucial role in promoting sustainable management and addressing biodiversity loss.
Qingyang Li and Yingxue Ge are graduate students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Juliet Lu is an assistant professor in Forest Resource Management and Public Policy & Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
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