UK Government urged to treble international biodiversity funding

That is according to a new ODI analysis out today (20 June). Commissioned by Campaign for Nature, the report assesses the level of international funding that will need to be allocated to deliver the key aims of the UN-convened biodiversity treaty.

Formally known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the treaty was ratified in 2022 and stipulates that nations should collaboratively halt the decline of nature this decade and bring about large-scale restoration at an unprecedented pace thereafter.

It is hoped that this could help to prevent a sixth mass extinction. Almost half of the world’s plant and animal species are undergoing population declines, facing issues such as habitat degradation and destruction caused by climate change, pollution and industrial activity.

Developed nations, in signing the GBF, agreed to collectively contribute annual financing to developing nations of at least $20bn by 2025. This was reiterated at last week’s G7 meeting.

Campaign for Nature has expressed concern that, collectively, this level of financing is not close to being met.

The new report calculates key developed economies’ ‘fair share’ of the $20bn. Calculations are based on each country’s responsibility for biodiversity over the past six decades, plus their ability to pay.

A ‘fair’ contribution from the UK is set at $1.87bn, equivalent to £1.4bn.

According to the report, Norway and Sweden are the only two nations already providing their fair share of funding. Germany and France also came close last financial year, at 99% and 92% respectively.

But the UK is one of the nations with the largest gap between its share and its actual spending, both in dollars and percentage terms. Other poor performers include Spain, Canada, Italy, Japan and Korea. It bears noting that the US did not sign the GBF.

“We must do our part and we must act now,” said Lord Goldsmith, former Minister for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment.

‘The UK has played a significant leadership role in promoting the importance of protecting biodiversity across the world, but this report shows we need to meet that ambition by urgently and substantially ramping up funding to keep our promise to our partners in the Global South who are the stewards of many of the most precious forests, mangroves and oceans that are also critical to our global food security, climate and sustainable economic future.”

edie reached out to the UK’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for a comment on Campaign for Nature’s claims.

An FCDO spokesperson said the Government is on track to deliver on a commitment to spend at least £3bn of international nature finance between 2021-22 and 2025-26.

Recommendations for change

Campaign for Nature has noted that the UK has been increasing nature finance assistance in recent years. Provisions increased from £305m in the 2021-22 financial year to £458m one year later.

But the pace and scale of this increase will need to be dialled up.

The report authors emphasised that wealthy nations can deliver their fair share by using a mix of public, philanthropic and private finance. As such, policymakers can strive to close the funding gap urgently by forging public-private partnerships, and by rethinking regulation and incentives to help unlock financing.

Ministers are also called upon to launch a new global collaborative initiative to coordinate the delivery of funding. Campaign for Nature would like to see this happen immediately – but this would be challenging amid various general elections. The UK public, for example, will go to the polls on 4 July.

Endorsing the report, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and current chair of The Elders, said: “I implore political leaders to see this report not as a critique of their efforts so far, but as a tool that will incentivise their treasuries to invest and ensure this planet and the people living on it cannot just survive, but live in harmony and thrive.”

Related news: EU’s Nature Restoration Law finally enters into force

Related blog: Why businesses are joining the Restore Nature Now march this weekend

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