A six-fold increase in funding flows from richer nations to poorer nations to support nature protection is needed to help slow the rate of biodiversity loss, charities have warned

Many of the world’s leading environmental charities have called on wealthy countries to commit to delivering at least $60bn a year of international finance to enable biodiversity protection and enhancement in developing countries, arguing the investment is necessary to compensate for the devastating impact richer nations’ consumption habits are having on nature in poorer regions.

The organisations, which include Conservation International, Campaign for Nature, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, and the World Resources Institute (WRI), said countries and markets like the UK, France, Canada, US, and European Union have a “moral responsibility” to put a halt to biodiversity loss and achieve a nature-positive economy.

Flows of international finance to support biodiversity currently fall far short of $60bn a year, with just $10bn of annual biodiversity funding currently flowing from richer nations to poorer nations for nature protection, the charities have warned.

The groups have made their request ahead of United Nations biodiversity negotiations taking place in Geneva later this month, which are expected to feed into crucial talks about a international treaty for tackling biodiversity loss at the COP15 Biodiversity Summit that is slated to take place this autumn in Kunming, China following repeated delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the world prepares to meet [at the COP15 Biodiversity Summit] in Kunming [later this year], we must raise our ambition once again for both action and funding for biodiversity,” said James Roth, senior vice president for global policy and government affairs at Conservation International. “This funding is an investment in the future we all want – and will help address the many challenges facing the planet, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, pandemic prevention, and the conservation of the nature we all need for food and fresh water. The time to act is now – there is not a moment to waste.”

The charities said increased international biodiversity finance should be accompanied by a push to eliminate harmful subsides, increase domestic funding for nature, and boost the effectiveness and efficiency of resource use.  

The charities behind the appeal have calculated that some $844bn is required to address the biodiversity crisis in total, a sum that is roughly $711bn more than current spending levels. Enabling increased flows of public and private finance from rich to poor nations to support biodiversity projects is widely seen as critical to leveraging in the further investment and regulatory reforms that could finally lead to a reversal in global biodiversity loss.

Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said unsustainable production and consumption, particularly of food, was driving biodiversity loss across the globe, which is in turn damaging economies and leading to increased risks for human societies.

“To move towards a nature-positive economy, we need to spend more directly on biodiversity conservation and end pressure on nature from harmful financial flows and subsidies,” he said. “We are finally beginning to understand that this is not only essential for nature: it will safeguard humanity, help prevent pandemics and create essential new jobs.”

He added that wealthy countries had a “moral responsibility to support a target of at least $60bn of international finance for nature annually in Asia, Africa, Latin America, as a part of a necessary comprehensive resource mobilisation strategy”.

Richer nations do not have a good track record of meeting their environmental finance obligations. They have collectively failed to meet their international climate finance target to mobilise $100bn annually for poorer nations by 2020, despite the target being established in 2009. However, the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow did secure a renewed commitment to deliver on the target, increased funding for climate adaptation, nature, and projects to tackle deforestation, and a promise to begin a “dialogue” to explore how to provide funding to tackle climate-related “loss and damage”.

The latest call to action comes a day after a landmark IPCC report into climate impacts warned climate change was causing widespread and irreversible impacts for humans and animals, and recommended that nature protection and conservation schemes and projects were put at the heart of efforts to tackle the problem.

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