Addressing Africa’s Concerns in the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund

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Originally published in The Standard

Kareni Lematile fetches water along the drying Ewaso Nyiro river at Archers Post as drought ravages northern Kenya. [Peter Muiruri, Standard]

Kareni Lematile fetches water along the drying Ewaso Nyiro river at Archers Post as drought ravages northern Kenya. [Peter Muiruri, Standard]

The launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) last week marks a crucial step forward in the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the global plan agreed by governments in Montreal, Canada, in December 2022 to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

The new fund was ratified and launched at the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Seventh Assembly in Vancouver, where two countries announced initial contributions to start its capitalization. This included 200 million Canadian dollars from Canada and 10 million pounds from the United Kingdom.

This fund holds immense potential for safeguarding our planet’s biodiversity. It is expected that the new fund will attract funding from governments, philanthropy, and the private sector, with a focus on the sustainability of biodiversity and ecosystems.

However, as we embark on this transformative journey, it is imperative that the GBFF funding be adequate, predictable, and timely to address the unique challenges faced by Africa.

As the Africa Climate Change Summit in Nairobi, it is imperative for States to address the issue of funding. African governments, in collaboration with regional organisations and civil society, must take an active role in ensuring their concerns are addressed within the GBFF.

Financial resources are essential for effective biodiversity conservation. Thus, African countries should actively participate in the GBFF and GEF, advocating for increased funding and innovative financing mechanisms to accelerate the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework target agreements across the continent.

Despite the critical importance of biodiversity, a global financing shortfall for biodiversity conservation estimated at $700 billion per year – hinders efforts to address the escalating challenges facing nature protection in developing countries. Despite its exceptional natural resources and unique biodiversity, Africa lacks sufficient funds for biodiversity conservation, a situation further compounded by competing development priorities, such as poverty reduction and infrastructure development.

The need for a dedicated biodiversity fund was advocated by developing nations in Africa, Latin America, and Asia who argued that the existing Global Environment Facility (GEF) was inefficient and slow in delivering funds. A compromise was reached, resulting in the creation of the recently launched GBFF.

For the GBFF to effectively address Africa’s concerns, several key proposals must be considered. Firstly, the Fund must be accessible and timely. The current proposal should define a clear mechanism for accessing the funds and establish a robust monitoring system to measure the scaling up of resources for Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) implementation. This will ensure transparency and accountability in fund distribution.

Secondly, the funding allocated to the GBFF must be adequate to meet the agreed targets. Countries should actualise their pledges to ensure that the target of $20 billion per year by 2025 and at least $30 billion per year by 2030 is achieved. Adequate funding will enable African countries to effectively implement conservation initiatives, protect critical habitats, save species from extinction, and support local communities dependent on biodiversity.

Lastly, the GBFF must prioritize the needs and rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). Whereas 20 per cent of the funds have been ear-marked to support indigenous-led initiatives, there is need to urgently clarify how the fund will ensure direct and efficient support to IPLCs, increasing financial resources for their empowerment and stewardship. To achieve this, Indigenous Peoples should be included in the decision-making structure of the GBFF, ensuring their voices are heard and their perspectives are considered in conservation efforts.

The role of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) in implementing the GBFF should also be clearly defined. MDBs, as implementing agencies of the GEF, should leverage the GBFF to advance nature-positive approaches to infrastructure and other sector-based development. Additionally, the programming directions of the GBFF should specifically address the private sector’s involvement, promoting blended capital approaches to enhance biodiversity outcomes in high-impact infrastructure projects. On the other hand, financial institutions and private sector must track, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity arising from their operations.

African governments, in collaboration with regional organisations and civil society, must take an active role in ensuring their concerns are addressed within the GBFF framework. Financial resources are essential for effective biodiversity conservation.

African nations should engage in constructive dialogue with the GEF and other stakeholders, providing valuable insights and advocating for adequate resources and support. By fostering partnerships, sharing best practices, and promoting knowledge exchange, African nations can drive positive change and champion the cause of biodiversity conservation.

Equally important is the need to advocate for sustainable development that integrates biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. This includes promoting green infrastructure projects, sustainable tourism initiatives, and renewable and nature-friendly energy solutions.  Through this, Africa can address the financing gaps and foster sustainable development practices.

The establishment and ratification of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, no doubt, holds immense potential for addressing the biodiversity crisis. However, it is essential that the fund works for Africa for a sustainable and inclusive future. Let us seize this opportunity to safeguard our continent’s, and by extension, our planet’s natural heritage for generations to come.

-Ms Rubina is the Regional Director Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group

Read the article: Global biodiversity framework fund must address Africa’s concerns The Standard, September 05, 2023