2. Trends in development finance for biodiversity, 2011-2020

This chapter provides an overview of trends in biodiversity-related development finance from 2011 to 2020, updating and complementing previous OECD work in this area, notably Biodiversity-related Official Development Assistance 2016. Mainstreaming in the energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing, and health sectors (OECD, 2016[1]), Financing for Development in Support of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Drutschinin and Ockenden, 2015[2]) and Biodiversity and development finance: Main trends, 2011-20 (Casado-Asensio, Blaquier and Sedemund, 2022[3]). It is based on a comprehensive methodology developed to identify biodiversity-related activities in the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Creditor Reporting System (CRS) and total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD) databases (Box 2.1).

Development finance for biodiversity can originate from several sources. Official development finance (ODF), which includes official development assitance (ODA) and other official flows (OOF) (see Box 1.3 in Chapter 1), is one of these sources. Development finance can be either bilateral ODF (directly provided by a DAC member to recipient countries) or multilateral outflows (resources channelled through and by international financial institutions, multilateral or regional development banks, and UN institutions). Development finance can also include other sources of ODF: non-DAC members that report to the OECD on their ODF flows; ODA-like international public funding among developing countries (South-South and triangular co-operation, SSTrC); and private flows mobilised by public interventions. Private philanthrophy is also a key source of development finance. This chapter provides estimates of all of these sources of development finance. For further information on how these estimates were produced, see Box 2.1 and Annex A.

Figure 2.1 shows the full value of all biodiversity-related development finance flows reported to the OECD over 2011-2020. This shows that biodiversity-related development finance from public sources (DAC members, non-DAC, SSTrC and multilateral providers) increased by 119% over 2011-20, rising from USD 7.8 billion to USD 17.1 billion. This increase was largely driven by DAC members, which made up 72% of the total public flows on average over 2011-20, and is mostly DAC members’ ODA, which accounts for 99% of total bilateral investments (the remaining 1% being OOF). In turn, multilateral institutions provided 28% of the total over this period. Flows from non-DAC and SSTrC providers make up an additional 0.1% of the total and gained importance after 2017, when most started reporting.

Figure 2.2 applies coefficients to the estimates, which is closer to the approach that many members take when reporting to the CBD on these flows (see Box 2.1 and Annex A for further information). This Figure therefore provides a different scale but similar trends. Public development finance for biodiversity increased by 79% over 2011-20, rising from USD 5.4 billion to USD 9.6 billion. This increase was largely driven by DAC members, which made up 77% of the total public flows on average over 2011-20, with the remaining 23% coming from multilateral institutions. This share increased after 2015, primarily driven by concessional outflows (which represent 61% of total multilateral development finance estimates). Flows from non-DAC and SSTrC providers make up an additional 0.2% of the total.

In both scenarios, private sources of development finance for biodiversity have also increased over time (Figure 2.1 and Figure 2.2). Indeed, private philanthropic flows grew from USD 501 million in 2017 to USD 686 million in 2020 – a growth trajectory that also reflects the increased coverage of these actors’ activities in the OECD database since 2016. In turn, private finance flows mobilised by public interventions also increased from USD 94 million in 2016 to reach USD 165 million in 2020 – and represents 21% of all private biodiversity-related development finance in 2020.

Table 2.1 provides a breakdown of public biodiversity-related development finance from DAC members and multilateral institutions by type of flow and considering three scenarios. Our analysis shows that over 2011 to 2020, on average, DAC members’ contributions were distributed mainly through ODA, with OOF growing progressively over the decade. Similarly, multilateral institutions’ contributions were mostly provided through concessional outflows.

DAC members are the largest providers of bilateral development finance for biodiversity. DAC members’ biodiversity-related development finance increased from USD 6.2 billion in 2011 to USD 10.1 billion in 2020 (Figure 2.3). This represents an annual average of USD 7.8 billion and 6% of total development finance flows. When accounting for flows based on the use of coefficients, DAC members’ biodiversity-related development finance increased from USD 4.4 billion in 2011 to USD 6.5 billion in 2020, a 49% increase (Figure 2.4). These estimates surpass projections for ODA for biodiversity made at the start of the period (Parker et al., 2012[7]; Miller, Agrawal and Roberts, 2013[8]), and are in line with more recent work (CBD, 2020[9]; OECD, 2020[10]; WWF, 2021[11]).

Despite the overall growth, the portion that is Rio-marked with biodiversity as a principal objective decreased between 2011 and 2020 by 22% (i.e. from USD 3.1 to 2.4 billion). While it increased by 48% over 2011-15, it then decreased by 47% over 2015-20. This pattern can mainly be explained by a significant decrease in the contributions from Japan in 2016 compared to 2015, and thereafter by more gradual decreases in contributions by the EU Institutions, France and the USA – all ranked as top biodiversity-related donors.

Looking ahead, it will be important that ODA funding for biodiversity with a principal objective grows once again as these investments represent core biodiversity spending. Further work will also be needed to address the underlying pressures on biodiversity (e.g. by ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources, and mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors). Such core investments need to remain constant over time to ensure their impacts are sustained.

Other trends emerge from the analysis:

  • The proportion of total biodiversity ODF targeting other objectives, i.e. activities marked with biodiversity as a significant objective is increasing over time in both scenarios. This slight increase reflects greater awareness of, or interest in, integrating biodiversity-related aspects across development co-operation activities and may reflect growing mainstreaming of biodiversity.

  • These estimates could change (potentially correcting the downward trend in activities marked with a principal objective) if all or part of the relevant SDG-tagged information were to be reported against the Rio Marker (SDG-tagged information was captured in this analysis as additional contributions). This calls for more consistent reporting by DAC members in the future.

  • The overall share of biodiversity-related ODF in total DAC ODF has remained relatively stable over time, at 4% to 6% depending on the methodology applied. However, the analysis also finds that the vast majority of ODF is invested in sectors that are neutral or not related to biodiversity (e.g. government, policies and regulations, disaster risk reduction, health, other economic infrastructure) – and potentially in areas that are not supporting biodiversity. This trend reveals the potential scope for increasing biodiversity-related ODF and for donors to explore the implications of being nature positive in their interventions.

Article 20 of the CBD specifies the role of developed country Parties in providing financial resources to support developing countries, namely to “provide new and additional financial resources to enable developing country Parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs to them of implementing measures which fulfil the obligations of this Convention” (CBD, 2006[12]). This role has been progressively refined (CBD, 2020[13]):

  • In 2010, Parties to the CBD at COP10 in Japan committed to scaling-up their financing to support the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets by 2020 (CBD, 2010[14]). In particular, Aichi Target 20 on development finance calls for an increase in development finance resources.

  • In 2012, at COP11 in India, Parties agreed to set a “target on international financial flows” and identified actions to increase mobilisation of financial resources from all sources (CBD, 2012[15]).

  • COP12 in Korea in 2014 adopted a commitment to double total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries by 2015 – especially LDCs and SIDS, as well as countries with economies in transition – using average annual biodiversity funding over 2006-10 as a baseline, and to at least maintain this level until 2020 (CBD, 2014[16]).

  • At COP13 in Mexico this commitment was extended to CBD Parties, and other governments and donors in a position to do so, through Decision COP XIII/20 (CBD, 2016[17]) and reiterated at COP14 in Egypt (CBD, 2018[18]).

Our analysis shows that collectively the DAC members that are Parties to the CBD (i.e. all except the US) have met the Aichi Biodiversity target on biodiversity-related development finance. In 2015, ODF for biodiversity from this group had doubled compared to the 2006-10 baseline, and then remained above that level over 2016-20 (Figure 2.5 and Figure 2.6)1. This finding holds under two scenarios: counting all biodiversity-related development finance from DAC member Parties to the CBD Figure 2.5; and applying a coefficient to those estimates that have been Rio-marked with biodiversity as a significant objective and those marked as targeting SDG 14 and/or 15 Figure 2.6. These conclusions also hold under other scenarios, for example if the United States is included in the analysis, even though it is not a Party to the CBD; or if SDG-marked flows are split into ‘principal’ (when only SDG 14 and/or 15 were tagged in the reporting) and ‘significant’ (when more than one SDG was tagged by a member) activities.

Looking beyond these collective trends (Table 2.2), the coefficient approach shows that six DAC members met the commitment to double ODF for biodiversity by 2015 (France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom). An additional seven DAC members reached the target over 2016-20 (Australia, EU, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland). In addition, four DAC members increased, but did not double, their biodiversity-related ODF in 2016-20 compared to the 2006-10 baseline (Austria, Belgium, Canada and Ireland) – although growth rates vary among the countries in this group (e.g. from 99% growth by Canada to 9% growth by Austria). Other DAC members reduced their bilateral biodiversity-related funding commitment in 2016-20 compared to the 2006-10 baseline. In this group, the most significant decreases were by Greece and Finland (92% and 76% decreases, respectively).

Notwithstanding this trend, it is important to note that the DAC data included here refers to direct bilateral ODF for biodiversity only. Allocations by some DAC members are therefore partially reflected, given that many use the multilateral system, such as the GEF, to engage in biodiversity-type of work. Such core contributions to the multilateral system by DAC members are included within the multilateral institutions total contributions, to avoid double counting.

Building upon the previous discussion, Figure 2.7 and Figure 2.8 rank the top DAC donors according to their biodiversity-related ODF. The main DAC donors over 2011-20 were Germany, France, EU, United States and Japan, independent of the scenario used, which together accounted for at least 70% of total biodiversity-related ODF. Most DAC member ODF is driven by ODA investments, with OOF being a relevant share of the biodiversity-related investments in Austria and Finland (10% and 9%, respectively). The EU and their DAC member states, taken together, are the major donors for biodiversity worldwide (accounting for 68% of total biodiversity-related ODF), although here too, activities are primarily funded by only a few EU members.

In relative terms, biodiversity is most important in the programmes of Iceland, France and Italy, where estimates show that it represents 10%, 8% and 8% of their ODF activities, respectively, followed by Germany, Norway and Sweden, with 7%. These donors are primarily investing in biodiversity protection, agriculture and fisheries, sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, nature-based solutions, the conservation of forests and sustainable water resource management. Norway, for example, focuses its interventions on the forestry sector through its International Climate and Forest Initiative, and is in fact the largest REDD+ donor, having bilateral agreements with several partner countries, including Brazil (Hoover El Rashidy, 2021[19]), Peru, Guyana, Indonesia and Tanzania. Norway also has other joint agreements, such as a partnership with the UK – another big funder of forestry-related activities – to support the Congo Basin Forest Fund; and supports the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Forest Investment Program and the Bio Carbon Fund (Angelsen, 2016[20]).

Multilateral providers, such as the multilateral development banks and multilateral funds, are important contributors to biodiversity (see Figure 2.9, and Annex A for a complete list of multilateral institutions considered in this analysis) and their biodiversity-related finance has collectively increased over 2011-20.2 However, reporting on biodiversity-related activities by multilateral institutions is not yet systematic, comprehensive or consistent across years – especially compared to their reporting on climate-related activities (Multilateral Development Banks, 2022[21]).

While some institutions apply the biodiversity Rio Marker, other institutions report against Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15 to identify their biodiversity-related activities, or provide an indication of these investments through the use of purpose codes related to biodiversity (see Annex A). Some institutions also use a combination of these approaches. However, many institutions that report to the OECD do not signal their biodiversity-related activities through any of these means. This makes the overall volumes of multilateral development finance targeting biodiversity difficult to identify. Given these limitations, a specific methodology was developed for this report to obtain a comprehensive estimate of multilateral institutions’ biodiversity-related outflows. It identifies and disaggregates activities into principal and “principal-like”, as well as significant and “significant-like” objectives (described in Annex A).

Using this methodology, our analysis finds that multilateral outflows for biodiversity-related activities increased over 2011-20, regardless of whether a full value analysis (Figure 2.9) or an analysis applying coefficients was conducted (Figure 2.10). The full analysis estimates that multilateral outflows for biodiversity-related activities increased from USD 1.6 billion in 2011 to USD 7 billion in 2020 (quadrupling over this period and representing, on average, 3% of total multilateral outflows). The second scenario –estimates applying coefficients to the significant and significant-like activities – sees the increase go from USD 1 billion in 2011 to USD 3.1 billion in 2020 (tripling over this period). However, these flows are relatively low, especially when compared to multilateral public finance for climate change, which increased from USD 15.5 billion in 2013 to USD 36.9 billion in 2020 (OECD, 2022[22]).

In the analysis of full flows (Figure 2.10), there are two noticeable spikes in the growth trend, namely over 2015-16 and 2019-20, reflecting a 163% increase (from USD 0.7 to 1.6 billion) and a 60% increase (from USD 1.93 to 3.1 billion), respectively. In 2016 the spike can be explained by the significantly high contributions from two multilateral development banks (representing 47% of total biodiversity-related multilateral outflows), while the spike in 2020 is driven by two other multilateral development banks (representing 45%).

Importantly, and as is the case for other areas of multilateral development finance, the main instruments used are loans (61%) followed by grants (38%) and equity (0.2%). This contrasts with bilateral shares (74% grants, 25% loans, and 1% equity), and underlines the complementary role of multilateral actors in the international development co-operation system (MOPAN, 2021[23]), including for biodiversity.

In relative terms, however, the share of biodiversity-related development finance has remained stable over 2011-20. Based on these shares, and compared with bilateral providers, multilateral institutions have scope to increase their biodiversity focus and flows further and to continue mainstreaming biodiversity across activities. This would be in line with the Multilateral Development Banks’ Joint Statement on Nature, People and Planet (adopted during UNFCCC COP26, in Glasgow), which commits the multilateral development banks (MDBs) to mainstream nature into their policies, investments and operations, including through defining and making “nature-positive” investments (Multilateral Development Banks, 2021[24]).

While the portion of principal and “principal-like” flows appears to be stable over time, flows to significant and “significant-like” activities have increased, showing that biodiversity-related concerns are increasingly mainstreamed across activities. Even so, these flows are still low, suggesting there is an opportunity to reap low-hanging fruits and accelerate biodiversity mainstreaming. Given the lack of consistent data on biodiversity spending by multilateral institutions, this report recommends that multilateral institutions enhance their transparency by reporting on their biodiversity-related activities to the OECD CRS, ideally using the Rio Markers, which are currently the most comprehensive source of comparable data on development finance for biodiversity. For institutions already reporting to the OECD on their biodiversity-related activities, there is room to improve the quality of this reporting (e.g. by ensuring that activities reported with a purpose code related to biodiversity are identified with the marker). These recommendations also apply to other policy areas, as noted in the latest OECD Multilateral Development Finance report (OECD, 2022[25]) and are in line with the monitoring framework and resource mobilisation strategy of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (CBD, 2022[26]; CBD, 2022[27]).

Funding from non-DAC providers for biodiversity-related activities amounted to USD 28 million annually on average over 2018-20, the years when most information on these providers is included in the OECD database (Figure 2.12). These trends are driven mainly by:

  • Saudi Arabia (which provided USD 18.5 million on average over 2018-20, for agricultural and fishing activities)

  • The United Arab Emirates (USD 3 million on average over 2011-20, peaking in 2018 with a contribution of USD 10.1 million, for wildlife conservation and protection of endangered species)

  • Kazakhstan (USD 3.5 million on average over 2018-20, for protection of marine environment and contributions to biodiversity-related international organisations).

The contribution of non-DAC EU Member States is also growing over time, mainly driven by Estonia. South-South and triangular co-operation (SSTrC) providers, such as Brazil, Chile and Indonesia, are also reporting on their total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD; see Annex C) with biodiversity-related objectives. Data available for 2019-20 indicate that it increased by 46% in this period. South-South and triangular co-operation has been particularly important in the context of Latin America and the Caribbean, with growing trends and important lessons learnt across the partners engaged, as can be seen from data provided for this report by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (Box 2.2). These modalities help transfer local biodiversity-related solutions within regional contexts, achieve global biodiversity goals across regions, help mainstream biodiversity, and foster strategic biodiversity-related capacity development (OECD, 2019[28]).

The report recommends that more countries that provide development finance report to the OECD on their biodiversity-related ODF, and that they also report their biodiversity-related South-South and triangular co-operation through the TOSSD database. The OECD is supporting these economies with statistical capacity development to improve their reporting, including on the use of the Rio Markers. A recent example is the support provided to Qatar, which is increasingly engaging in biodiversity-related work and that, by reporting on these flows to the OECD, could help provide visibility to the country’s efforts, as well as enhance the global picture of biodiversity-related development finance (Box 2.3).

Philanthropic flows are still modest in volume compared to total biodiversity-related ODF, but in key sectors such as general environment protection, agriculture and fisheries, they are significant. Private philanthropic institutions are investing more and more in biodiversity-related areas, providing USD 501.4 million in 2017 and USD 685.6 million in 2020 (an increase of 37%) (Figure 2.13).

The sources of philanthropic contributions for biodiversity are highly concentrated. Of the 36 foundations included in the OECD database that reported on biodiversity-related activities, the Bezos Earth Fund, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation were the most significant donors, providing 45% of the total biodiversity-related philanthropic giving during 2017-20, while 78% was provided by only 10 foundations (Figure 2.14). Aside from these private providers, the Arcadia Fund, Arcus Foundation and MAVA Foundation show a strong focus on biodiversity, allocating more than one-third of their annual grant making to conservation of nature and related aspects. Moreover, based on its first commitments in 2020, the Bezos Earth Fund is likely to continue having a key role in the future too. Box 2.4 provides examples of the evolving participation of private philanthropies in the biodiversity-related area through innovative financial mechanisms and partnerships.

Philanthropists favour investing in middle-income economies (75% of the total), such as Indonesia, Brazil, India, Peru and Kenya (together accounting for 14% of the total). The remaining 25% of the country-allocable funding targeted LDCs. In addition, almost all philanthropic contributions (74%) were implemented through NGOs and civil society (such as WWF, Climate Works Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, or Fauna and Flora International), followed by academia or research institutes (17%).

Mobilising private sector finance is essential to deliver on biodiversity targets (CBD, 2020[13]). According to the latest data (OECD, 2022[33]), private finance mobilised by official providers grew by 11% in 2020, up from USD 46.4 billion in 2019 to USD 51.3 billion in 2020. Multilateral organisations are the largest contributors to the mobilisation of private finance (Table 2.3), accounting for 75% of the total.

Despite increasing, figures are relatively small for biodiversity: private finance mobilised by DAC members’ ODF averaged only USD 37.2 million over 2017-20, increasing from USD 14.7 million in 2017 to USD 148.7 million in 2020, an increase of 502%. In addition, the GEF also mobilised USD 109.4 million over a similar period (2016-20), ranging from USD 94.4 million to USD 76.7 million, in 2016 and 2020, respectively – which reflects its mandate and connection to the World Bank, which allows it to benefit from the Bank’s expertise in financial engineering (Landry et al., 2022[34]).

Coverage of the dataset is still improving and the estimates here may be an underestimate of actual figures. In fact, the multilateral dataset only captures data for 2016-20 – there is little data on biodiversity for years prior to that, mainly due to the evolving methodology and quality of data reporting. It is possible that the limited amounts mobilised for biodiversity also reflect the fact that projects are still at an early stage and thus are not yet reported in the statistics. Another reason for low mobilisation amounts may be the fact that some projects are identified differently under climate change or a particular sector (e.g. water and sanitation) – and biodiversity-related co-benefits are not mentioned. Finally, and given the commercial nature of activities captured here, low mobilisation amounts may also reflect low project numbers because it is more difficult to attract a broader range of investors and to scale up due to lack of investor confidence in this area as well as successful reference cases to rely on. However, multiple biodiversity-related mobilisation approaches are evolving (Box 2.5) spanning across multiple stakeholders (private, public and philanthropic) as well as financial instruments and mechanisms.

While some of these limits could be solved through greater transparency on private finance mobilisation and more granularity in reporting to the OECD, especially from multilateral development banks, further attention will also be needed to ensure appropriate government policies, regulations and incentives are in place in partner countries to unleash the potential of private capital (Deutz et al., 2020[39]). One approach would be to integrate such action through the resource mobilisation strategies of NBSAP processes (Pisupati and Prip, 2015[40]; UNCCD, 2022[41]) or into Biodiversity Finance Plans (UNDP, 2016[42]). The on-going work by the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures may also support greater transparency on mobilisation in the future (Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, n.d.[43]).


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[38] UNEP (2020), Dutch government and Rabobank announce anchor investments in AGRI3 Fund, https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/dutch-government-and-rabobank-announce-anchor-investments-agri3-fund (accessed on 27 January 2023).

[35] Warmerdam, W., L. Pham Van and J. Walstra (2022), Mobilized private climate & biodiversity finance: 2021 report, https://www.government.nl/binaries/government/documenten/reports/2022/04/04/mobilised-private-climate--biodiversity-finance-report-2021/2021-126-mobilized-private-climate-biodiversity-finance-2021-report.pdf.

[30] WEF (2023), New Initiative to Help Unlock $3 Trillion Needed a Year for Climate and Nature, https://www.weforum.org/press/2023/01/new-initiative-to-help-unlock-3-trillion-needed-a-year-for-climate-and-nature (accessed on 17 January 2023).

[11] WWF (2021), Biodiversity Development Assistance Towards Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.


← 1. While the CBD agreement on the Aichi target on development finance does not specify whether commitments should be assessed against nominal or real values, this report has analysed trends by adjusting for inflation and using as a reference 2020 constant prices.

← 2. Previous work had already found that multilateral organisations are key providers of biodiversity-related ODF – and that multilateral flows could grow to twice the level of bilateral flows over time (Miller, Agrawal and Roberts, 2013[44]).

← 3. Note by Türkiye

The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Türkiye recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Türkiye shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union

The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Türkiye. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

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