Biodiversity can be in the center of sustainable development, yet it requires systematic solutions and diverse mechanisms that enable retainment and reinvestment of funds into conservation. This new sourcebook deals with a range of additional financial instruments that may support planning and thinking about financing biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas as investments in sustainable development.
A launching event for the Sourcebook on sustainable financing for biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas in the Western Balkans was organized this Tuesday, on June 16, by the Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Implementation of Biodiversity Agreements (ORF BDU) project.
This publication offers an insight into financial mechanisms, which have been demonstrated as the most effective or useful in practice, and which appear to hold the greatest potential and opportunity to be used to strengthen conservation and sustainable development in the Western Balkans, in addition to the standard public budget channels. However, public budget support needs to be enhanced and supplemented.
There is little doubt that the public budget should form the core of conservation financing in the Western Balkan economies – as in other parts of the world. It remains a basic responsibility of the government, as well as a stated commitment, to ensure that biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas are maintained and adequately funded.
Yet, across the region, biodiversity tends to be given a low priority compared to other sectors and policy goals, co-author Mladen Lazić said.
Raising awareness among officials, citizens, companies
Development of a sustainable financing system depends on strengthening the human and research capacity and, of course, strategic planning. Enabling authorities to identify financing solutions and implement them in a strategic manner shall secure sustainability in practice, Lazić said during the online launch event.
He highlighted the importance of public support in influencing decision makers and noted that awareness raising is necessary on a wide scale. It is of utmost importance that officials recognize that such actions as of national public interest and make the case for biodiversity to encourage businesses for new biodiversity-sustainable business opportunities.
Political leaders should grasp how investing in biodiversity returns to economic growth and development, while companies need to become aware of business opportunities
Seeking to equip the public sector environmental and economic planners with information about sustainable financing approaches, instruments and real-world case studies, the aim behind the sourcebook is also to distil concrete lessons learned and recommendations about needs, opportunities and ways forward in enhancing the financial sustainability of biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas in the Western Balkans.
The co-author Lucy Emerton, an environmental economist specialising in ecosystem valuation, the design and development of conservation finance and incentive mechanisms stated that substantial funding can be generated from biodiversity. However, unless it is retained and reinvested in biodiversity conservation and given to sectors and groups that bear the costs, the system isn’t secure.
“The amount of funding is really important, but that’s not the whole picture. It doesn’t matter how much money we generate for biodiversity. Unless we overcome other financial constraints, the money is not going to achieve its aims. We might be able to get billions of euros, but if it all comes from one source, then we don’t have a sustainable financing base,” she stated.
Emerton said the real challenge is how to scale up from national to regional level and, furthermore, share beyond the region. She added, it is one thing to identify needs and opportunities, but then they must become implemented practice.
Joint applications for funds have strong potential
There is significant potential in attracting new funding by joining forces at the regional level, she stressed. In Lazić’s view, the European Green Deal is the driving force for the ambitions, particularly in the context of region’s EU integration ambitions, and one of the ways to push the environmental agenda forward.
“It is very important to enhance regional cooperation, to consider joint actions, because working together on the issue is not related to one specific place. It is regional and that’s how it should be addressed. We believe it increases the chances for the whole region to secure more external funds and deal with biodiversity conservation challenges,” Lazić stated.
The European Green Deal is the driving force for sustainable financing for biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas in the region
There are between USD 150 billion and USD 440 billion in global costs per year just for achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Closer to home, the Western Balkans economies are facing expenses for environmental protection measures required for Chapter 27.
At the same time, the environmental revenue base is narrow and they depend on external aid.
Role in development planning
“This sourcebook on sustainable financial mechanisms for biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas in the Western Balkans reflects the strong commitment of the Western Balkans and our partners, as well as of the GIZ, to support the integration of biodiversity issues into sectoral and development planning. Moreover, it aims also to contribute to biodiversity finances debate and global processes on resource mobilisation,” said Kristina Kujundžić, Senior Manager at the GIZ-ORF BDU.
The regional technical, scientific and civil society platforms, in particular the Biodiversity Task Force of South East Europe (BDTF SEE) and Expert Group on Ecosystems Services Assessment and Valuation (ESAV EG), as well as the BIMR and BioNET platforms, immensely assist the process of development of the sourcebook by framing the needs and selecting the most applicable sustainable finances mechanisms for biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas in the Western Balkan regional context.
Vast contributions were also received from other relevant organisations working in the region, in particular the International Union for Nature Conservation – Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (IUCN ECARO), also acting as the BDTF Secretariat. Finally, the collaboration with the GIZ Sectoral Programme on Implementing the Convention of Biological Diversity enables building capacities to look for new options that may provide funds needed for conservation.
During the discussion part of the launch event, IUCN ECARO’s Director Boris Erg said that the sourcebook is highly valuable and that it definitely shows funding sources that haven’t been fully explored. He underscored the extent of the financing gap for biodiversity, ecosystems and protected areas in the region and expressed the opinion that there is much room for private funding.
The sourcebook is to be translated to local languages in order to make it easier for use in the daily work of planners, practitioners and future biodiversity-based entrepreneurs. It includes a glossary of terminology with definitions.
The publication is available here.
The Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Implementation of Biodiversity Agreements (ORF BDU) project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the GIZ.