1. Biodiversity: The key to unlocking sustainable development

Biodiversity loss and the collapse of ecosystem services are much more than environmental problems. They constitute urgent development issues with economic and social repercussions (IPBES, 2018[1]), notably loss of economic opportunities and livelihoods (OECD, 2019[2]; OECD, 2021[3]), and deepening poverty (IIED, 2019[4]). Biodiversity loss undermines food security, agricultural productivity and resilience (IFAD, 2021[5]); it affects the sustainability of the ocean economy (OECD, 2020[6]) and the fisheries sector (UNEP, 2021[7]), as well as the availability of freshwater (Albert et al., 2021[8]); it also fuels fragility, insecurity and conflict (CEOBS, 2021[9]; Daouda Diallo, 2021[10]; OECD, 2022[11]) and contributes to the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases (OECD, 2020[12]; WHO, 2020[13]). What is more, losing biodiversity also means losing opportunities for stabilising and coping with climate change (UNEP, 2021[7]) and the loss of ecosystem services (IIED, 2019[4]; UNEP, 2021[14]). Biodiversity loss and climate change mutually reinforce each other and are now considered systemic risks and “twin crises” (IPBES and IPCC, 2021[15]). In fact, biodiversity loss ranks among the top perceived threats to humanity, just after weapons of mass destruction and state collapse (WEF, 2022[16]).

All economic activity and human well-being depend on nature (Dasgupta, 2021[17]; IPBES, 2022[18]; OECD, 2021[3]). The economic value of biodiversity is large, even though estimates vary. For example, the current economic value of protected areas is estimated at approximately USD 6 trillion annually (UNDP; Secretariat of the CBD; UNEP-WCMC, 2021[19]; FAO, 2022[20]). According to the World Economic Forum, global biodiversity has an economic value of USD 44 trillion and over half of the world’s GDP moderately or highly depends on nature (World Economic Forum and AlphaBeta, 2020[21]). Other estimates point at a global value of nature and its ecosystem services of USD 125-145 trillion, representing over 150% of global GDP (Costanza et al., 2014[22]). The value of pollination is just one example of the economic and business case for biodiversity action, as it increases the global value of crop production by USD 235-577 billion per year (IPBES, 2016[23]).

However, despite the value of nature, the anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity and ecosystem services keep growing (Gilbert, 2022[24]; IPBES, 2019[25]; Newbold et al., 2015[26]). The expansion of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, industry, urbanisation, and transport all interfere with terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems (IPBES, 2019[25]). Globally, food systems are responsible for 80% of deforestation and 70% of freshwater use, and are the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss (UNCCD, 2022[27]). Land-based activities are also at the source of most biodiversity loss in coastal areas (IRP, 2021[28]). Assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) are showing a rapid decline in most indicators of ecosystems and biodiversity health (IPBES, 2019[29]). As mentioned, these phenomena are all altering the very basis that underpins economic activity and human societies, including their well-being, safety, and development (Hoegh-Guldberg, Jacob and Taylor, 2018[30]).

Biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and the collapse of ecosystem services – such as wild pollination, climate regulation, nutrient cycling, or water and air purification – have a heavier relative cost for developing countries (Swiss Re, 2020[31]). As in other domains, many developing countries face severe challenges in conserving, sustainably using, and restoring their biological diversity. These countries rely on nature and functional ecosystems to sustain livelihoods but lack the appropriate frameworks, sufficient finance, capacity, human resources, and technologies to conserve them, while simultaneously being faced with pressing development needs (Brörken et al., 2022[32]). In fact, according to the World Bank, significant degradation of biodiversity globally would cost 2.3% of global GDP or around USD 2.7 trillion annually by 2030, with the poorest hit hardest (World Bank Group, 2021[33]). Impacts are likely to be particularly severe in low-income rural and urban populations, as well as marginalised communities such as indigenous peoples and women (Förster, 2022[34]; CBD, 2022[35]).

The identification of COVID-19 as a possible zoonotic disease has emphasised the link between infectious diseases, the destruction of ecosystems, illegal wildlife trade and human encroachment on nature. Yet, the repercussions of pandemic lockdowns and reduction in economic activities have intensified biodiversity loss in many countries (Corlett et al., 2020[36]). Many developing countries, including some of the most biodiversity-rich countries in the world, were already struggling to finance biodiversity prior to the pandemic, but had to increase spending on health measures, and to support households and firms, at a time when sources of domestic revenue, including ecotourism revenues and external private finance, was waning (Akinsorotan et al., 2021[37]). As a result, illegal deforestation, mining, and other unsustainable activities increased in some countries with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (OECD, 2020[12]; Hoover El Rashidy, 2021[38]; Vivid Economics, 2020[39]). For example, on-site management of Madagascar’s protected areas was suspended from March to July 2020, which is associated with 76–248% more fires than usual (Eklund et al., 2022[40]). Lockdowns have also interrupted on-site protected-area management activities in other countries (Singh et al., 2021[41]), and led to a drop in ecotourism (Fletcher et al., 2020[42]), affecting the livelihoods of local communities (World Bank, 2021[43]) and increasing the pressure on natural resources. Although the pandemic is losing intensity over time, its impacts may be long-lasting (FAO, 2022[20]), including complicating the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Zhao et al., 2022[44]).

While much expectation was placed on post-pandemic recovery plans being “green”, they have not mobilised sufficient resources to ensure sustainable development pathways that help protect biodiversity (Vivid Economics, 2020[39]). Green measures accounted for just 2.6% of total fiscal spending during the pandemic (i.e., USD 420 billion out of USD 16 trillion) by the world’s 87 largest economies (FAO, 2022[20]). According to the OECD, spending on environmentally positive measures represented only 21% of total COVID-19 recovery spending in 2021 (up from 17% in 2020) in OECD, European Union (EU) countries and emerging economies (OECD, 2021[45]). However, less than 11% of this 21% benefitted biodiversity. Hence, tackling and slowing the rate of biodiversity loss will require further ambition, co-ordination and collaboration across governments, donors, civil society and the private sector in the post-pandemic period (WWF, 2022[46]; Zhao et al., 2022[44]).

Recent United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) assessments and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework itself highlight that CBD Parties will need to scale up their ambition and address the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, including through resource mobilisation strategies, namely by: (a) adopting national biodiversity strategies and mainstreaming biodiversity considerations; (b) generating new and additional international and domestic financial resources, both private and public, while also reducing expenditures that harm biodiversity and redirecting or realigning them to supporting biodiversity; and (c) enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of resource use, as well as identifying and increasing biodiversity co-benefits from funding aiming at other objectives, e.g. such as nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation (CBD, 2022[47]; CBD, 2020[48]; CBD, 2021[49]; CBD, 2020[50]; CBD, 2020[51]) (see Box 3.1 for a definition of nature-based solutions).

Resource mobilisation for biodiversity in developing countries is central to sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes two biodiversity-focused SDGs – (14) Life Below Water and (15) Life on Land – calls for resources to be mobilised from all sources and at all levels to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity (United Nations, 2015[52]). Importantly, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which provides a guide for financing the SDGs, also recognises the importance of protecting biodiversity and ecosystems (United Nations, 2015[53]).

In 2010, the CBD agreed to a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and established the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which consisted of five strategic goals and 20 targets, including Target 20 on resource mobilisation to be achieved by 2020 (UNEP, 2021[54]). At the 12th CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) in Korea in 2014, Decision XII/3 on Resource Mobilisation reaffirmed Parties’ commitment to an overall substantial increase in total biodiversity-related funding from a variety of sources for the implementation of the Strategic Plan, with a particular focus on support to least-developed countries (LDCs) and SIDS (CBD, 2014[55]). At the 14th COP of the CBD in Egypt in 2018, Parties affirmed that resource mobilisation would be an integral part of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), agreed at COP15 in December 2022 to follow on from the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The GBF builds upon the agreed Kunming Declaration of 2021, which highlights the need to provide developing countries with the necessary means of implementation – including financial, technology and capacity building – and to align all financial flows with supporting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity (Kunming Declaration, 2021[56]). The Declaration also aims at increasing the application of ecosystem-based approaches in addressing biodiversity loss, restoring degraded ecosystems, boosting resilience, and mitigating and adapting to climate change; and ensuring benefits across economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, through robust safeguards for environmental and social protection (Kunming Declaration, 2021[56]). Meanwhile, the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 confirmed that many of the Aichi Targets had not been achieved in 2020 (CBD, 2020[57]); while the IPBES also concluded that negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 35 of 44 of the assessed targets of the SDGs and that are relevant to biodiversity (IPBES, 2019[29]).

The new GBF therefore emphasises the continued loss of biodiversity and the threat that this poses to nature and human well-being, and the importance of having an ambitious resource mobilisation strategy to support implementation of the Framework. These calls are operationalised through GBF Goal D to 2050 and Target 19 to 2030, both of which have implications for development finance (CBD, 2022[47]). Notably, international finance from developed countries, and other countries that assume obligations of developed country Parties, are to mobilise at least USD 20 billion per year by 2025 and at least USD 30 billion by 2030 for developing countries (see Box 1.1 for further details).

The priorities highlighted in the Kunming Declaration and the GBF have also been emphasised by the international community beyond and in light of the CBD negotiations (Box 1.2) (IIED, 2019[4]; Parrotta et al., 2022[60]). For example, the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature commits endorsers to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 (Leaders Pledge for Nature, 2022[61]); the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People intergovernmental group champions a global deal for nature and people, aiming to protect at least 30% of the world’s land by 2030 (High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, n.d.[62]); the Global Ocean Alliance aims to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030; the Bonn Challenge aims at bringing 350 million hectares of land into restoration by 2030 (UNDP; Secretariat of the CBD; UNEP-WCMC, 2021[19]); the LEAF Coalition aims to halt deforestation through the financing of large scale tropical forest protection (LEAF Coalition, n.d.[63]); and the Kiwa Initiative aims to fund coastal zone restoration and preservation projects. Another coalition has launched the “Nature-based Solutions for Climate Manifesto”, a plan to unlock the full potential of nature for climate action, with the support of more than 70 governments, private sector, civil society and international organisations and accompanied by nearly 200 initiatives and good practices from around the world (Terton, 2022[64]). In addition, the G7 has recently issued a Climate, Energy and Environment Communiqué (G7 Germany, 2022[65]), which aims to mobilise resources from all sources and substantially increase funding for nature by 2025, and to ensure international development assistance does no harm to nature by 2025, in line with the Nature Compact commitments (G7 Cornwall, 2021[66]). Finally, the G20 Rome Leader’s Declaration aims at strengthening the synergies between climate and biodiversity action, including through nature-based solutions.

In parallel, private-led initiatives to increase awareness and leadership on nature, as well as financing biodiversity conservation, have also sprouted, such as the Coalition for Private Investments in Conservation, the World Forum on Natural Capital, the Conservation Finance Network, the Conservation Finance Alliance (Standing, 2021[71]), the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, Business for Nature, Nature Action 100, the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures, or the Green Gigaton Challenge. These have different remits and members and overlap partially with the objectives of public pledges and the GBF. Some of them openly call for the blending of public and private finance, including for the benefit of developing countries. For example, the Green Gigaton Challenge is a public-private initiative to catalyse funds from private companies and international donors to reduce tropical deforestation, including through reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) (Green Gigaton Challenge, n.d.[72]); while the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge concerns financial institutions representing 18 countries and over USD 12 trillion in assets (Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, n.d.[73]).

Finally, the international framework that guides biodiversity-related action has recently taken a new direction, looking for better co-ordination between climate and biodiversity objectives (Maron, Simmonds and Watson, 2018[74]; Leaders Pledge for Nature, 2022[61]). Synergies between the CBD and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emerged with the Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at the 26th COP of the UNFCCC in the United Kingdom in 2021. The Pact included an agreement to set up carbon offset markets (through Article 6 of the Paris Agreement), which may help tap into the potential for investing in nature-based solutions, provided the markets are well-designed. Moreover, the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use asserts the importance of leveraging multiple UN processes to halt deforestation by 2030. This Declaration is supported by and builds upon unprecedented pledges (e.g. USD 15 billion in donor funds and USD 7 billion from the private sector to support implementation). It makes explicit reference to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-30), which aims at a 50% reduction of degraded land by 2040 on a voluntary basis, achieving Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030, and repairing over 2 billion hectares of degraded land around the world. These are objectives under the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, but with direct implications for biodiversity (UNCCD, 2022[27]).

To ‘halt and reverse’ biodiversity loss, adequate policy frameworks and resource mobilisation will be central (Maron, Simmonds and Watson, 2018[74]; CBD, 2020[50]). Even though higher levels of resources do not always guarantee higher levels of conservation or the sustainable use of biodiversity, research shows that on average a higher allocation of resources to biodiversity activities is associated with reduced biodiversity loss (CBD, 2020[50]). Yet globally, only 0.1% of GDP is channelled to biodiversity (OECD, 2020[75]). Recent estimates of global biodiversity spending vary:

  • USD 78-91 billion annually, based on data reported for the period 2015-17 (OECD, 2020[75]).

  • USD 124-143 billion annually, with 80-85% of the funding derived from the public sector, based on data reported and extrapolations (Deutz et al., 2020[76]).

  • USD 154 billion annually (UNEP, 2022[77]), based on 2022 public and private financial flows to nature based solutions.

While expenditure on biodiversity has increased over time (Parker et al., 2012[78]), research broadly indicates a significant and persistent biodiversity funding gap (Tobin-de la Puente and Mitchell, 2021[79]; Deutz et al., 2020[76]; WWF, 2022[46]). Although there is wide variation due to methodological differences, the estimates on global biodiversity funding needs vary from:

  • USD 103-178 billion annually, based on the needs expressed to finance the expansion of conservation areas to 30% of the earth’s surface by 2030 (Waldron et al., 2020[80]).

  • USD 105-306 billion annually for implementing the Global Biodiversity Framework (CBD, 2021[81]); to

  • USD 598-824 billion annually by 2030 (World Bank, 2021[43]; CBD, 2021[49]).

  • USD 674 billion annually to meet biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change targets by 2050 (UNEP, 2022[77]); and to

  • USD 700 billion annually (CBD, 2022[47]) to close the biodiversity finance gap and fully implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework especially in developing countries.

Some developing countries, including those that are key to biodiversity, are particularly underfunded (IPBES, 2018[1]). For example, the 40 most underfunded countries in terms of biodiversity harbour 32% of all threatened mammalian diversity (Waldron et al., 2013[82]). In another example, research also finds that out of 282 state-owned protected areas in Africa with lions, 94% were inadequately funded in 2018, with available funding satisfying only 10-20% of their requirements on average. Such funding gaps, as well as other factors (e.g. poor governance, deficient policy frameworks, perverse incentives), have led to the underperformance of many protected areas, putting species, ecosystems and inclusive development at risk (World Bank, 2021[43]).

What is more, the biodiversity funding gap is not static and is likely to increase if the underlying drivers and pressures on biodiversity loss are not addressed (IPBES, 2019[29]). In OECD countries, the EU and emerging economies, domestic public expenditure accounts for the lion’s share of total biodiversity expenditure, amounting to between 75-87% of the total (OECD, 2020[75]). In developing countries, only 13% of biodiversity investments come from national budgets (Waldron et al., 2013[82]). The relative importance of domestic public finance for biodiversity in developing countries, compared with other sources, has also been observed in a recent compilation of studies on the finance available to support nature-based solutions and forestry in developing countries (FAO, 2022[20]). As such, the Global Futures project estimates that under a business-as-usual scenario, the costs of biodiversity loss in some developing countries could be as high as 4% of their GDP per year by 2050 (World Bank Group, 2021[83]). Against this backdrop, many developing countries may not be able to dedicate sufficient resources to cover the costs of conserving and sustainably using biodiversity, while simultaneously sustaining domestic livelihoods (UNCCD, 2022[27]). Extra-budgetary support may therefore still be needed, including from public and private international finance (Berghöfer et al., 2017[84]).

Despite the substantial contribution biodiversity makes to sustainable development, it remains chronically underfunded. This is particularly the case in developing countries, which often rely on development finance to support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity (World Bank, 2021[43]). As biodiversity is a public good, and in some cases open access, governments have a key role to play in addressing the market failures that arise in these contexts, including by putting in place policy frameworks to reflect the true values of biodiversity in decision making and by supporting policies, programmes and projects via public finance (OECD, 2018[85]). Biodiversity-related development finance (Box 1.3) has been an important, countercyclical flow, playing a key role in protecting biodiversity and supporting local livelihoods in many developing countries, especially LDCs and SIDS, and including during the COVID-19 crisis (even though further action to protect biodiversity could have been taken in post-pandemic plans).

Development co-operation has been at the centre of recent CBD assessments of resource mobilisation for biodiversity, highlighting the need to continue directing international funding flows to developing countries and economies in transition to achieve the objectives of the Convention. The main sources of biodiversity-related development finance are bilateral donors, i.e. OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members; multilateral development institutions; non-DAC donors and South-South and triangular co-operation providers; private sector finance mobilised by development co-operation flows and private philanthropic foundations.

Most DAC members have been funding biodiversity-related activities long before the approval of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity achieved during the Rio Conference in 1992, also known as the Earth Summit (UN, 1992[87]). The DAC has also long recognised the importance of biodiversity in development co-operation. For example, in 2010 the DAC issued a Policy Statement on Integrating Biodiversity and Associated Ecosystem Services into Development Co-operation (OECD, 2010[88]), which aimed at integrating biodiversity into development and poverty reduction policies, plans, programmes and projects, as well as in budget processes and partner country dialogues. The Policy Statement also aimed at mainstreaming biodiversity into all aspects of development co-operation. More recently, the OECD DAC Declaration on a New Approach to Align Development Co-Operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change commits members to embedding nature into their analyses, policy dialogue and operations (OECD, 2021[89]). Accordingly, DAC members recognise the need to align development finance with environmental and biodiversity objectives (notably through nature-based solutions), as well as to align biodiversity and climate policies.

At CBD COP15, furthermore, 14 DAC members issued a Joint Donor Statement on International Finance for Biodiversity and Nature (Joint Donor Statement, 2022[70]). The Statement notes members’ intention to continue increasing international biodiversity finance and align relevant international development flows, commensurate with the ambition of the GBF. The Statement is in part a response to the 10 Point Plan for Financing Biodiversity, an initiative launched by Ecuador, Gabon, the Maldives and the UK, to provide a blueprint for bridging the current biodiversity financing gap (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2022[90]), and which also specifies the role donor finance must play and has also been endorsed by 10 DAC members.

While DAC members are the largest providers of bilateral development finance for biodiversity, multilateral development institutions (international financial institutions, multilateral or regional development banks, and UN institutions) also have a key, and complementary, role to play (Drutschinin and Ockenden, 2015[91]; OECD, 2020[75]; Hoover El Rashidy, 2021[38]; OECD, 2021[3]). Typically, multilateral institutions have helped de-risk private biodiversity-related investments through concessional loans and have provided grants to foster capacity development. They have also been key in mobilising additional finance through the development of debt-related schemes (Responsible Investor Research and Credit Suisse, 2021[92]), and see Box 1.2 and Box 4.2.

Most multilateral institutions work in the field of biodiversity (e.g. Asian Development Bank, IFAD, International Development Association, Inter-American Development Bank, UNDP). One of the most important multilateral institutions in this area, is the Global Environment Facility (GEF), created as the mechanism to finance the projects related to global goods of the Rio Conventions in developing countries, and it has seen its role in the biodiversity-related space grow over time (WWF, 2020[93]); see Box 4.1. An increasingly large share of what DAC members spend on biodiversity, in some cases almost all, is channelled through their multilateral contributions to GEF. Moreover, to complement existing support and scale up financing to ensure its timely implementation, the recent COP15 resource mobilisation decision requests the GEF to establish a new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund in 2023 (CBD, 2022[59]).

Other institutions have also grown in importance. For example, the World Bank Group has traditionally had a large portfolio of biodiversity projects focused on protected areas, improving natural resource management, and mainstreaming biodiversity into forestry, coastal zone management, and agriculture (World Bank, 2008[94]). Other examples include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which supports capacity development programmes for biodiversity (Responsible Investor Research and Credit Suisse, 2021[92]); the Asian Development Bank (AsDB), which is a key player in initiatives to improve conservation in the Greater Mekong region (AsDB, 2018[95]); or the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which has been central in promoting sustainable smallholder agriculture and agrobiodiversity (IFAD, 2021[5]). In addition, research shows the key role played by multilateral organisations in promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation through the forestry sector, e.g. through the Forest Investment Programme of the Climate Investment Funds and the Green Climate Fund’s (GCF) USD 500 million REDD+ pilot financing programme (FAO, 2022[20]; Parrotta et al., 2022[60]); in providing nature-based solutions (Oliver and Marsters, 2022[96]) and in the land sector (Woollands, Kachi and Lagarreta, 2022[97]).

Many countries which are not DAC members also have long traditions of providing development co-operation. These providers are a diverse group of countries which include several Arab Gulf countries; ‘emerging’ economies such as Brazil, India, the People’s Republic of China and South Africa; some EU Member States in central Europe; and several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Although these countries are not members of the DAC, some have more characteristics in common with DAC members than with other emerging providers (Luijkx and Benn, 2017[98]). Most of them are upper middle-income or high-income countries and many are, or have been, both providers and recipients of development co-operation (Muchetu and Shonhe, 2022[99]; Simeón, Li and Xiao, 2022[100]). Many refer to themselves as providers of South-South co-operation, thus exchanging resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, and often engaging in triangular co-operation, including with DAC members.

These countries also provide bilateral biodiversity-related ODF (OECD, 2019[101]) and are seen as key actors in the landscape of resource mobilisation for biodiversity (CBD, 2020[51]). For example,

  • Many non-DAC EU members have committed to international initiatives such as the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature (Leaders' Pledge for Nature, 2020[67]).

  • China, which presided over the CBD COP15, has launched a development finance mechanism, the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, endowed with USD 235 million to support biodiversity conservation in developing countries (Nature, 2021[102]). China has also been contributing to biodiversity over 2006-20 with 73 foreign assistance projects and programmes, as well as three voluntary contributions to international organisations worth USD 27 million (WWF, 2021[103]).

  • South-South and triangular co-operation (SSTrC) has been particularly important in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a growing number of activities (see Box 2.2).

The number of foundations has increased in the last 20 years, as has the wave of interest in their role as funders, innovators and partners of international development (OECD, 2018[104]). Biodiversity-related initiatives from private philanthropies have also grown in importance, often helping to plug funding gaps in developing countries. Foundations have supported a range of activities, from integrated natural resource management to financing specific activities such as anti-poaching efforts, conservation of strategic ecological corridors or promoting payments for ecosystem services, e.g. by the African Wildlife Foundation in Kenya and Tanzania (UNCCD, 2022[27]). Philanthropies also have an important role in supporting indigenous peoples and local communities’ (IPLC). Examples include the Oak Foundation and Ford Foundation (Rainforest Foundation Norway, 2021[105]), and the Brazilian Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) programme. ARPA was launched in 2002 by the Brazilian Government to support large-scale biodiversity conservation (da Silva and Bueno, 2017[106]). It developed a multi-stakeholder model of institutional partnerships, including foundations (e.g. Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), public donors (e.g. Germany, GEF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank) and civil society (e.g. WWF). A final example is the Bezos Earth Fund, which has collaborated with the Wildlife Conservation Society to create new protected areas in the Congo Basin and strengthen their management, in partnership with governments, IPLCs, businesses, and civil society (Bezos Earth Fund, 2021[107]).

Moreover, in the context of the UNFCCC COP26, several philanthropies joined governments, civil society and the private sector in their biodiversity-related pledges. For example, nine philanthropic organisations, including the Arcadia Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, launched the Protecting Our Planet Challenge, pledging USD 5 billion over a decade (the largest philanthropic commitment to nature conservation ever) to support efforts to protect and conserve 30% of the planet by 2030 (Nature, 2021[102]). In addition, at the latest United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Côte d’Ivoire (COP15, in May 2022), 12 governments and foundations pledged USD 1.5 billion to protect forests in the Congo Basin; 14 countries and philanthropic foundations committed USD 1.7 billion over 2021-25 to advance IPLCs’ forest tenure rights; and the Bezos Earth Fund pledged USD 1 billion to accelerate landscape restoration in the Great Green Wall of Africa (UNCCD, 2022[27]).

Most recently, in September 2022, several private philanthropic foundations and charities pledged to add to the previous USD 5 billion already committed to conservation if other countries promised more funds (Gilbert, 2022[108]), while contributions from the philanthropic sector and other non-governmental actors were strongly encouraged to implement and achieve the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework through the “10 Point Plan for financing biodiversity” (UK, 2022[69]). Ultimately, in January 2023, WEF launched the Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) supported by more than 45 public, private and philanthropic (over 27 foundations) partners to help unlock USD 3 trillion annually of financing to tackle climate change and nature conservation [see Box 2.4, (WEF, 2023[109])].

Many business and financial organisations both depend on and in turn impact biodiversity (OECD, 2019[110]) and many (such as Apple, L’Oréal or Unilever) have pledged international finance for biodiversity purposes recently (Campaign for Nature, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF, 2022[111]). At the same time, there is growing recognition that public funds, including ODF, will be insufficient to reverse biodiversity loss. This is why the international development community aims to increasingly use official interventions to mobilise private finance (CBD, 2020[48]; Berghöfer et al., 2017[84]).

Mobilisation of private finance can contribute to the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services (financing green). It can also direct financial flows away from projects with a negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystems (greening finance) (World Bank Group, 2020[112]). A supportive enabling environment with the right incentives and regulations, data availability and transparency, acknowledgment of biodiversity as a financial risk, as well as more readily available projects within the investment pipeline, could enhance the mobilisation of resources at scale, in particular for biodiversity objectives [e.g. to finance access and benefit-sharing instruments such as digital sequence information on genetic resources as recently agreed at COP15 (CBD, 2022[113])].

Mobilisation of private finance from public sources can take several forms. The OECD collects data for private finance mobilisation through six financial instruments: credit lines, guarantees, simple co-financing, direct investment in companies and special-purpose vehicles, shares in collective investment vehicles, and syndicated loans. These modalities can also be used to mobilise private finance for biodiversity and ecosystem services (World Bank Group, 2020[112]; Finance for Biodiversity Initiative, 2021[114]).

Against this backdrop, this report analyses a decade of development finance for biodiversity, which coincides with the period of implementation of the 2011-20 CBD Strategic Plan on Biodiversity and its Aichi Targets. It provides an overview and estimates of biodiversity-related development finance (Box 1.3) from bilateral donors, i.e. OECD DAC members; non-DAC donors and South-South and triangular co-operation providers; multilateral providers; private philanthropic foundations; and private finance mobilised through public finance. The report also builds on 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[115]), Financing for Development in Support of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Drutschinin and Ockenden, 2015[91]), and Biodiversity and development finance: Main trends, 2011-20, (Casado-Asensio, Blaquier and Sedemund, 2022[116]).

The report also explores funding trends to a range of key areas, including: the main funding priorities in the area of biodiversity; main recipients and regions; the specific situation of SIDS and fragile contexts; trends in marine and terrestrial biodiversity development finance; main sectors targeted by biodiversity-related interventions; an overview of cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, desertification and gender equality; capacity development for biodiversity; and other elements, such as illegal wildlife trade and funding for indigenous peoples and local communities.

Having a better understanding of biodiversity-related development finance flows can build stronger collaboration among development co-operation stakeholders and help donors to be more effective. The report therefore presents existing DAC member frameworks and pledges to guide future work in this area, and opportunities to scale up action and ambition in support of biodiversity objectives. In addition, the report highlights geographic and thematic shortfalls, as well as other gaps, including knowledge and data limitations, for donors and researchers to consider in future development finance for biodiversity. Together, these elements can help DAC members and other stakeholders enhance their biodiversity-related development finance in the future, and help them work together to strengthen and co-ordinate their efforts in this area. Notably, the report can inform the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed in December 2022 at the CBD COP15. Finally, the information in this report can help establish a baseline from which governments and other stakeholders can track biodiversity development finance trends in the future, thus contributing to the implementation of the OECD DAC Declaration on a new approach to align development co-operation with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (OECD, 2021[89]). Paragraph 13 of the Declaration states that ‘'We commit to greater accountability and transparency in how we define, account for and report ODA related to climate, biodiversity and the environment”; while paragraph 19 notes that members “will work to embed nature into [their] analyses, policy dialogue and operations to ensure that ODA does no harm to nature.”

The report is structured as follows: Chapter 2 analyses biodiversity-related development finance over 2011-20 from all sources, while Chapter 3 explores biodiversity funding flows by region and country category and for a range of other biodiversity-related themes. Chapter 4 takes a more forward-looking perspective, exploring the opportunities for biodiversity-related development finance to become more strategic, coherent and effective. The report concludes with recommendations targeted at each of the main development co-operation actors to meet the biodiversity challenge and help close the funding gap (Chapter 5).


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