“If we cannot find a balance between nature and economic development, humans will suffer the most,” a financing biodiversity webinar concludes.

The African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA) and the African Development Bank held the first joint webinar on ‘Financing Biodiversity in Africa from All Sources’ on 3 December 2020.

The webinar sought to explore how best to scale up finance for biodiversity from multiple sources – public and private, domestic and international –to meet the post-2020 objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). A diverse panel offered global, regional, and national perspectives.

The current draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework recognizes that transformative action to sustain biodiversity will require an enabling environment and adequate financial and technological support.

In his opening remarks, Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, highlighted the factors that have prevented Africa from realizing its biodiversity goals.  At the top of the list is limited access to funding. The Bank’s commitment to nature has accelerated the need to create the ‘Rio Convention Fund’ to integrate implementation strategies

“The African Development Bank is investing in several initiatives that support a greener continent, especially within critical ecosystems. The Bank is scaling up its provisions to include climate change and nature-based solutions and the investments have grown significantly from 9% (of Bank investments) in 2016 to 35% in 2019.  The Bank has funded nature-based projects to the tune of $379 million,” Nyong said.

Development and conservation are compatible and inter-dependent, Kaddu Sebunya, the CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation said, arguing that the supposed conflict between conservation and development was a false choice.

“If we cannot find a balance between nature and economic development, humans will suffer the most. Our mistake has always been viewing natural resource management exclusively as an environmental concern,” Sebunya said.

Levis Kavangi, UNEP Regional Office for Africa (ROA) Coordinator (Ecosystems and Biodiversity) and Ronald Kaggwa, Coordinator, Green Growth at National Planning Authority of Uganda, pushed for a paradigm shift in efforts to conserve Africa, and the need to remove barriers between government and civil society organizations.

Mohamed Bakarr, Lead Environmental Specialist at the Global Environment Facility (GEF), said: “There is a push to increase production, if our natural assets are not well-managed, we cannot effectively meet these growing needs. GEF has been bold in investing in projects that develop both for people and nature across the continent.  It recognizes the need to create enabling policies that favor the private sector to go green.”

Summarizing the discussion, Zéneb Touré, Manager of Civil Society and Community Engagement Division at the African Development Bank, highlighted the key role CSOs will play in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

There is a growing interest in biodiversity loss and the role companies can play to halt and reverse it. The webinar highlighted the need to reframe our current approach and to look for scalable opportunities that can transform economies and benefit the people of Africa.

The recording of the full webinar can be accessed here.