A side event held during the UN Biodiversity Conference featured country case studies to raise awareness about the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) support for the development of biodiversity finance plans. The event also highlighted the GEF’s Umbrella Program to Support Development of Biodiversity Finance Plans, which will establish transformative processes in countries through robust biodiversity finance from the GEF.

During the 7 December event themed, ‘GEF Support to the Development and Implementation of Biodiversity Finance Plans,’ four countries shared their experiences of developing national biodiversity finance plans as well as how the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) has impacted these plans.

Hannah St. Luce Martinez, Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Belize, said BIOFIN has financed an institutional review of policies that favor or hinder biodiversity management and targets at the national scale. She said financing also went into a biodiversity expenditure review of investments in biodiversity conservation, as well as a financial needs assessment in carrying out Belize’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). On NBSAP finance solutions, she identified, inter alia: strengthening environmental funds, including through taxes for cruise ships docking in national waters; crowdfunding, building on the world’s largest debt-for-nature swap; and establishing carbon markets, given that 60% of national territory is now under protected areas.

Teona Karchava, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Georgia, said no implementation financing existed in her country until BIOFIN provided the opportunity to assess expenditures and needs, after which a biodiversity finance plan was developed with the participation of all relevant stakeholders. She discussed lessons learned, including to: pursue small activities so staff changes are not too disruptive; involve all possible stakeholders in developing BIOFIN plans; fit financial solutions into other national processes; and integrate financing plans into NBSAPs.

Laura Camila Bermudez Wilches, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia, stressed that USD 4.5 million would be needed to fully implement Colombia’s NBSAP to 2030. On the finance strategy from 2020 to 2030, Wilches stressed, inter alia: the role of conservation agreements with payments for ecosystem services (PES); unlocking funds from authorized environmental offsets from the loss of the biotic component derived from private sector production processes; and nature-related financial disclosures to reduce effects from investment decisions. She recommended, among others, increasing debt quotas or debt-for-nature swaps, and innovation in generating public-private alliances for biodiversity finance.

Justin Mohan, National Biodiversity Authority, India, outlined potential financing sources to help close the funding gap, including: mainstreaming biodiversity in public finance and the agricultural sector; augmenting corporate social responsibility; developing certificates of compliance for businesses to show they are access and benefit-sharing (ABS) compliant; and using technology to assist in biodiversity conservation, such as for reducing fertilizer use.

The event was organized by the GEF and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Another 7 December side event focused on the Satoyama Initiative, which, first proposed at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan, for ten years has sought to realize “societies in harmony with nature” through landscape approaches. The event was organized by the UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) and the Japanese Ministry of Environment, among others.

Digital sequence information (DSI) was addressed during another 7 December side event, convened by the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR). DSI, the event highlighted, is changing the way genetic resources are used in agricultural research and development, with implications for new benefit-sharing norms. Participants considered how agricultural research organizations are increasingly using DSI to improve their work to conserve crop and livestock genetic diversity and use genetic diversity in plant and animal breeding programmes.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) is covering selected side events at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada, which runs through 19 December 2022.