Amidst impasse over funds, ministers join to close nature finance gap

Ministers from around the world arrived for the three-day high-level segment at the fifth Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada, beginning on Thursday for a nature-positive world amidst an impasse over funds for poor nations.

Amidst walkouts on Wednesday over resource mobilisation, the negotiations remain at an impasse with concern that significant technical elements of the text are being left for ministers to resolve.

Delegates from 193 countries at the summit are considering targets, including pollution cuts and protecting 30 per cent of the world’s land and sea by 2030.

Negotiators told IANS that consensus is needed if the world is to secure an ambitious global biodiversity agreement, capable of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

For resource mobilization funding, developing countries put forward two proposals: on Global Environment Facility (GEF) reform and a new fund for resource mobilization.

In response, developed countries said they could only commit to talking about funding modalities at COP16, and the negotiations collapsed with several global south countries walking out late in the night.

Having a Global Biodiversity Framework that is balanced between action targets and requirements and providing financial support is a red line for developing countries and until there is some progress on resource mobilization, it is possible or likely that the negotiations will remain blocked.

A total of 112 ministers, vice-ministers, ambassadors, and other heads of delegation of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity are expected to participate in the COP15 high-level session.

A day earlier, at the Friends of the Chair session on monitoring, Mexico announced that developing countries will no longer participate in it until the resource mobilization situation is resolved.

So what needs to happen?

Everyone needs to show more flexibility on resource mobilization and the resource mobilization strategy must increase financial resources, including at least development aid, meaning all developed countries should commit now to increasing finance for biodiversity by mobilizing new, additional, predictable, and timely resources to developing countries in line with the ambition of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

In addition to increasing public funding, the private sector can also contribute to increasing resources, including through philanthropic and private sector and other funds, focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

This must also include increased pledges from multilateral development banks and international financial institutions.

During the ministerial negotiations, the target is mandatory assessment and disclosure.

Whilst some brackets remain, it’s clear that negotiators have heard the voice of businesses calling for mandatory assessment and disclosure, and countries are close to a final consensus on mandatory assessment and disclosure.

What more needs to happen?

Mandatory requirements for large business and financial institutions to assess and disclose risks, impacts and dependencies will unlock private funding for nature, sending a clear signal to the business community, and enable the alignment of private financial flows from investors and businesses.

As ministers join the crucial nature summit, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is calling for the final biodiversity framework to be fit for purpose to drive change in the global economy by sending the right signals to business and finance.

Eliot Whittington, Director of Policy, CISL said: “This summit needs to be a turning point in humanity’s relationship with nature and to do so it needs to kick off fundamental changes in the way the economy works.”

“More and more businesses and financial institutions are realising how essential action on nature and biodiversity is, but they need governments to provide the right rules and incentives to solve market failures and make change possible.”

Target 15 of the CBD Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) calls for mandatory requirements for all large businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impact and dependencies on nature by 2030. The World Economic Forum continues to highlight that loss, weakening and fragmentation of biodiversity pose huge threats to global and national economies.

The Campaign for Nature is focusing on three fundamental aspects of the Global Biodiversity Framework.

First, the need for a target to effectively protect and conserve at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and oceans. Second, the need for indigenous peoples and local community rights to be safeguarded and advanced in that target, as well as throughout the entire framework.

And third, the need for financing so that the framework is supported by adequate resources to be effectively implemented and ensuring that enough of that financing reaches the ground to indigenous peoples and local communities.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Mark Opel, finance lead for Campaign for Nature, said financing for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, or resource mobilization as it’s called in the negotiations, is critical, and the resource mobilization targets currently have more brackets than any others, as in prior COPs for both climate and biodiversity. The hardest parts get left to the very end, and the money is always the hardest part.

“Negotiations on the numbers have not started, and tensions are currently running high, which is a sign that negotiations are finally getting real. There are four key numbers in the Global Biodiversity Framework to keep in mind as the negotiations continue.

“The first is the overall global biodiversity funding gap, currently identified in Gold D, which has been estimated at $700 billion per year.

“The second key number is the dollar amount of reductions in subsidies harmful to nature that can contribute to closing that overall gap. $500 billion of subsidy reductions have been proposed in target 18. The next target, target 19.1, contains the third and fourth key numbers.

“The third key number is the target for the total global financial resource, total global financial resources from all sources, domestic and international, public and private, needed to meet the goals of the GBF.”

Pledges made so far include a $233 million fund for biodiversity protection in developing countries announced by China’s President Xi Jinping during the first part of COP15, which was held in October 2021.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened the second part of COP15 in Montreal with a pledge to grant CAN$800 million to indigenous-led nature conservation in Canada over seven years, starting in 2023-24.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

20221215-174002

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