African Union seeks billions in funding to conserve biodiversity

By Nkechi Isaac

April 6, 2022

The African Union (AU) has called on world leaders to funnel billions of dollars into a Global Biodiversity Fund (GBF) to enhance biodiversity conservation in Africa and other developing nations.

Africa and other developing countries are calling on developed countries to commit at least US$100 billion annually initially, rising to US$700 billion annually by 2030 and beyond, to help emerging nations implement a cohesive strategy for biodiversity protection.

Africa’s rich biodiversity faces imminent risk unless a fund is created to enhance its conservation, said Nigerian Sikemi Egbuwalo, who spoke on behalf of Africa in the recent conference of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Egbuwalo, a representative from the Federal Ministry of Environment Nigeria who serves as the country’s focal point for the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), said the AU’s 55 member states and other developing countries welcome the idea of a new funding mechanism to meet global biodiversity goals.

The funding would support domestic resource mobilization and leverage private sector funding, she said. “Since the adoption of the Convention, the world has developed new financing tools to enhance public and private finance such as blended finance, credit enhancement mechanisms, green banks and green bonds, as well as emerging practices on nature-related risk disclosure and public funding backed de-risking tools to leverage private sector funding,” Egbuwalo noted.

“We have seen the emergence of new public and public-private instruments like the Green Climate Fund and the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund,” she added.

Supporting the call, Daniel Mukubi of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reiterated the importance of a dedicated funding mechanism for biodiversity conservation to combat climate change and avoid additional biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity conservation is currently being funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) fund, which is not sustainable or effective because the GEF also funds other Convention projects and is not exclusively addressing biodiversity conservation, he said.

“The funding available now is [from] the GEF and it is unable to address all issues of biodiversity conservation,” he said. “The GBF is dedicated to raising our ambitions on conservation. That is why developing countries are asking for the possibility to table another fund mechanism that will be more accessible, simple and enhance our capabilities to conserve our biodiversity.”

He noted that in Africa and other developing countries, “indigenous people and local communities are working hard to conserve through their traditional knowledge. Making efforts to conserve allows us to have some areas that are very important for biodiversity and our wellbeing.”

Mukubi anticipated that the dedicated funding would come from existing mechanisms and incentives from governments and other donors, digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources, benefit-sharing mechanisms and other sources.

“Some donors have announced they will be able to make efforts,” he said. “For instance, China in the Kunming Declaration announced that it will be able to put US$40 million on the table. I think we are now negotiating for other developed countries to have other simple, operational mechanisms we can discuss to make this fund effective.”

Shedding more light on how the fund will be deployed, Mukubi called for the constitution of committees to access needs on a country-by-country basis, with a view to identifying  their unique conservation needs.

“All we are trying to do is ensure that by 2030, countries may be able to conserve 30 percent of Earth and 30 percent of seas,” he said. “We think that we can be able to put forward a mechanism that will identify for each country what the needs are [for] conservation of biodiversity, such as initiatives by indigenous people and local communities.”

Kasse Ousseynou, executive director and chief executive officer of the National Biosafety Authority of Senegal, underscored the importance of increasing funding for biodiversity conservation, saying there can be no safe planet or hospitable climate if biodiversity is not conserved.

“A dedicated biodiversity fund is necessary,” he said. “If we do not take care of biodiversity, how can we have a good climate? We need to have synergies, different mechanisms for funding. But if we do not write these goals clearly, at the end of the day we will have nothing to show. That’s why the African group said we congratulate Nigeria, as one of the leads on this, for speaking on behalf of the 55 member states of the AU.”

Image: An ostrich walks past a diverse group of animals gathering at a watering hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Photo: Shutterstock/Toni Aules