HYDERABAD, India, October 18, 2012 (ENS) – Delegates from 170 governments meeting in Hyderabad today adopted a new environmental strategy to address the unprecedented levels of biodiversity loss throughout the world.
Proposed by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the strategy is focused on raising the funding to restore species and ecosystems in 100 countries by 2020.
As the threats to biodiversity mount, the need for financial resources has become more urgent. With these investments, the UNDP will work with governments to conserve up to 1.4 billion hectares of land and bodies of water in 100 countries.
In short, the strategy is to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem management with development, climate change risk reduction, and poverty alleviation.
A panel of women in the highest positions of financial and administrative responsibility all pledged their support for the new strategy.
“Human survival depends heavily on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, yet in recent decades, the world has experienced unprecedented biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, undermining the very foundations of life on Earth,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan.
“As 1.2 billion people living in severe poverty depend directly on nature for their basic needs and livelihoods, this needs urgent international attention,” said Grynspan.
The new strategy, called “The Future We Want: Biodiversity and Ecosystems – Driving Sustainable Development,” was adopted during the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, in Hyderabad. This biannual conference is being hosted by India, who will serve as CBD president through 2014.
UNDP already manages the largest portfolio of biodiversity and ecosystems work in the UN system. The agency manages 512 projects in 146 countries, worth US$1.5 billion in funding from the GEF and other sources, and US$3.5 billion in co-financing from its partners.
As part of the new strategic framework, UNDP will work with national governments to protect biodiversity and manage ecosystems across 1.4 billion hectares of land and bodies of water, an area roughly equal to Australia, India and Argentina combined.
UNDP will work with governments to find new ways to finance biodiversity management through domestic revenue, innovative financial mechanisms, and donor funding from sources, including the Global Environment Facility, GEF, which serves as the financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
GEF Chief Executive Officer Naoko Ishii told conference delegates Wednesday at the opening of the conference’s High-Level Segment that the independent financing institution is setting its own long-term goals for the environment and will act quickly to fund conservation efforts.
Dr. Ishii said, “We need to be catalytic in building our respective strengths and prioritizing the precious resources at our disposal. That is why it is so important that we at the GEF make use of our strategic position in helping all of you in the quest to mobilize the necessary resources.”
The GEF is positioning itself as an innovator and partner of choice in supporting the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as the Aichi Targets for the Japanese prefecture where they were adopted in 2010.
“We will promote the valuation of natural capital to be integrated in decision making at all levels as a unifying theme,” Dr. Ishii said.
“For the first time, we have a set of ambitious targets for biodiversity that has been fully agreed to, and we have a decision by the parties to start mobilizing the needed resources at all levels,” she said. “This COP must bring these two key decisions closer together.”
“Incremental gains will not suffice if we are to reach the year 2020 able to count on natural capital as the foundation of sustainable development,” Dr. Ishii said. “I firmly believe that the Aichi Targets provide us with the framework to help us achieve that.”
The dais full of women in the highest positions of financial and administrative responsibility all pledged their support for the UNDP strategy.
Ishii and Grynspan were joined in the high-level meeting by Rachel Kyte, World Bank vice president for sustainable development and Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s minister of environment and forests, who is chairing this CBD Conference of Parties.
Grynspan says the investments raised will be used for projects that foster economic growth, create jobs, protect endangered species and habitats, and help build resilient communities that maintain natural areas for agricultural support and as a buffer against natural disasters.
Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Braulio Dias said, “The launch of UNDP’s new framework is very timely. I believe it will be vital in guiding UNDP’s support to countries to speed up implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.”
“We have a window of opportunity between now and 2020 to help countries shift the course of development to maintain and enhance their natural capital,” said Dias, calling the UNDP’s work “crucial” in accomplishing this goal
But any environment minister can attest that finding the financial resources to protect biodiversity is an uphill battle.
Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, overexploitation of species and criminal activities such as poaching are making conservation difficult. Add to that the accelerating impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, global economic troubles have governments everywhere cutting their budgets and redefining their priorities.
In the meantime, biodiversity is in steep decline. Extinction rates are between 100 and 1,000 times higher today than they were before humans appeared on Earth. Nearly 20,000 species are on the IUCN’s endangered species list; close to 1,450 of those have been added in the two years since 2010.
To reverse this rate of extinction, the UNDP will implement three Signature Programmes.
The first seeks to expand care and concern for biodiversity across key productive sectors, including agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, petroleum production, forestry, and tourism.
The second commits to unlocking the potential of protected areas by ensuring that they are properly managed, sustainably financed, and contribute to sustainable development.
The third supports “pro-poor” ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation approaches that promote inclusive and sustainable development in the face of climate change.
The World Bank has found that partnerships with the private sector can yield money for jobs and conservation. In Zambia’s Kafue National Park, for instance, World Bank support to the park authorities led to private investors tripling available accommodations. Tourism visits rose and park revenues grew ten-fold within six years.
Similarly, in South Africa’s Greater Addo Elephant National Park, a $5.5 million investment spurred $14.5 million in private sector investment and the creation of 614 jobs.
In both cases, partnerships with businesses helped to improve conservation outcomes.