UK and France launch joint biodiversity credits initiative

Biodiversity credits allow individuals and companies to invest in nature-based projects

The UK and France have together launched a biodiversity credits roadmap to support companies’ contribution to nature recovery.

Thérèse Coffey, the British environment secretary, and French state minister Bérangère Couillard announced the agreement on 22 June.

The aim of the global roadmap is to support global cooperation to provide positive outcomes for people and the planet.

A joint UK-France advisory panel will form part of the initiative, to harness and bring together collective thinking on biodiversity credits from all around the world.

Biodiversity credits are instruments that allow individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects that contribute to a richer biodiversity or restore nature. 

This could be in a rainforest, ocean, grasslands or other habitats globally. 

A credit would record where the environmental action has taken place, who has developed it, and how it is measured and checked.

At the Summit for a New Financial Pact in Paris, Coffey set out a plan for scaling up global efforts to support companies buying credits that contribute to the recovery of nature in a credible way.

The global roadmap will facilitate the sharing of best practice on the governance mechanisms for credit funding, monitoring regimes to ensure biodiversity improvements, and the fair distribution of income to indigenous peoples and local communities. 

The roadmap will work towards key international milestones, such as the 2024 United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP16), where financing for biodiversity will be high on the agenda.

The UK-French initiated advisory panel, jointly chaired by Dame Amelia Fawcett for the UK and Sylvie Goulard for France, will pool together expert voices from around the world to form and guide diverse working groups to drive forward positive change.

Peter Bachmann, managing director of sustainable infrastructure at Gresham House, and an early investor in, and developer of, the UK biodiversity credit market, said the joint initiative “marks a major milestone for nature finance, with the UK and France helping mobilise investment to support biodiversity and restore nature”. 

As an early investor in companies delivering biodiversity net gain, Bachman believes in the power of private capital to support international climate and nature goals, adding government support is vital to this nascent market.

He said: “The principle of biodiversity net gain is vital in the UK where we must solve competing challenges such as halting biodiversity loss while addressing the lack of housing developing. Biodiversity net gain units provide a cost effective solution for local developers that delivers positive environmental outcomes, alongside strong financial returns.” 

Coffey said: “Mobilising finance is key to meeting the global goals set out in the COP15 agreement. Initiatives like the roadmap on biodiversity credits will help ensure private sector financing is leveraged to conserve and restore nature.”

Dame Amelia Fawcett, co-chair of the UK-French Advisory Panel, said: “With global extinction rates higher than they have ever been, and ambitious global targets to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, the stakes have never been higher, and we need every part of society to play its part in helping fund nature’s recovery.

“The UK government has already made clear through the 10 Point Plan the need to urgently explore the role of biodiversity credits in closing the nature finance gap, and in France the announcement follows the launch of the Positive Conservation Partnerships (PCPs) at COP27, which recommended the scale up of biodiversity credits.”