COP15: China commits $232m to biodiversity fund

Delegates hear developing nations will still struggle to meet commitments after pandemic causes 'unprecedented' scarcity

China has committed $232m to a fund for biodiversity protection in developing countries.

The announcement came at the first part of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming this week, with the second part due to take place in May 2022.

Meanwhile, Japan also announced it was increasing its Biodiversity Fund by $17m.

The Global Environment Facility, United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Environment Programme have said they will fast-track financial and technical support to developing country governments to prepare for rapid implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework next year.

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However, speaking to the press, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), acknowledged the financial commitments announced would not be sufficient on their own.

“What has been announced by itself is not enough, I agree, but we have to look at it in the bigger context with other resources and that I will also add the recent commitments by different groups.”

Among other commitments she cited were the nine philanthropic organisations that recently pledged a total of $5bn over 10 years to support biodiversity.

She also restated the option of subsidies across the world valuing $500bn a year being diverted “from biodiversity negative activities to biodiversity positive activities.”

Resource scarcity

Despite China’s announcement of the $232m Kunming Biodiversity Fund, leaders at COP15 were warned of the difficulties developing nations face in funding biodiversity protection.

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Costa Rica’s delegate said: “As we face a second year of the pandemic, the developing world suffers from an unprecedented scarcity of resources for implementing our obligations.

“Now more than ever, there’s a need for a strong global framework to conserve, restore and sustainably use biodiversity along with a real commitment to provide resources to meet the incremental costs and technical needs of developing countries to implement such a framework.

“A real commitment to provide resources is one of the main amendments that needs to be made if we want to halt and reverse the biodiversity crisis.”

She added: “We should also strive to engage with all sectors including private sector to mobilise new and additional resources to reverse biodiversity loss.”

Aligning finance

Representing financial service stakeholders, asset manager Amundi said increased regulation was needed to ensure financial flows are better aligned with environmental protection.

“We are actually calling for more regulation. We strongly believe the global biodiversity framework should include an explicit expectation for businesses and private and public financial institutions to align activities and financial flows to the global biodiversity goals and targets, supported by appropriate regulatory measures and financial incentives,” said a representative.

A delegate from CBD Alliance, representing the civil society stakeholder group, agreed the alignment of financial flows and CBD commitments was necessary, but warned of private finance setting the agenda when it comes to public–private partnerships and blended finance for biodiversity.

She said they “create financial dependencies of public sector actors on private sector commercial interests and thus prevent the fundamental reform of our global financial architecture.”

“Increasing evidence shows that the main challenge is to align all financial flows, that is public and private investments, as well as all incentive measures, with CBD objectives and commitments,” she added.

“We cannot allow $4trn to $6trn to be spent annually on biodiversity destruction.”

The delegate also noted the continued use of the term “nature-based solutions” in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, despite objections from parties. It refers to carbon offset markets, such as planting trees, which are used to achieve net zero. She said accepting the term, without a clear definition, is like “writing a blank cheque” for carbon emissions.