9th Regional dialogue on biodiversity finance in Sri Lanka features new opportunities

A sustainable wonder to the world, Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments in Sri Lanka and deserving of its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. Sigiriya is also where another landmark knowledge exchange on biodiversity finance takes place. 

Reversing the global decline in biodiversity by 2030 requires a budget of USD 722 to 967 billion annually. With only about USD 124 to 143 billion flowing into global biodiversity conservation efforts, this leaves a huge financing gap amounting to USD 711 billion per year.

To bridge this gap and demonstrate how nature-positive economies can work for people and the planet, the United Nations Development Programme’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (UNDP-BIOFIN) is convening over 50 biodiversity finance experts including partners from governments and the private sector from Europe, Asia and Pacific for the 9th Regional Dialogue on Biodiversity Finance.

The 9th Regional Dialogue on Biodiversity Finance takes place from 7 to 9 November 2023 in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, home of the historical ancient rock fortress, one of the new seven wonders of the world.

The Regional Dialogue features various ways to mobilize finance for nature across Europe, Asia and the Pacific Regions, to attain Targets 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and realize the 30 x 30 agenda. Delegates from across16 countries shared unique and valuable learnings in the hope of catalyzing more urgent action to finance nature conservation and conserve the web of life.

The Regional Dialogue covers a wide array of finance solutions that unlock finance for nature such as public sector financing, subsidies, results-based budgeting, financial technology, and collaboration with finance and private sectors to finance other effective conservation measures or OECMs, pilot biodiversity credits and bonds, promote nature-financial disclosures, among others, towards the countries’ attainment of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans.

Launched in 2017, BIOFIN in Sri Lanka works on implementing three (3) finance solutions for the sustainable use and management of biodiversity. With the aim of reducing the fiscal burden on the Sri Lankan government while offering better opportunities for private sector and the community, BIOFIN Sri Lanka pilots the development of a Green Lending framework, a sustainable certification for the tourism industry, and payment for ecosystem services in the mini-hydro power generation sector.

The system of sustainable tourism certification was formally adopted in 2019, followed by the establishment of a sustainable tourism unit and investments of around US$ 30 million to help accommodations to align with the certification system.

Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative for UNDP in Sri Lanka noted, “Rich in its flora and fauna, Sri Lanka is an important hub of global biodiversity. Given the current economic crisis the country faces, it is clear, now more than ever, that biodiversity has to be at the heart of our recovery process. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, the UNDP-BIOFIN programme reaffirms its commitment to support efforts with biodiversity as the foundation upon which we as a community can build forward better.”

Using the BIOFIN methodology, Sri Lanka’s financial gap to achieve its NBSAP targets was estimated at 190 million USD on top of the resources allocated by the government between 2018 and 2024.

Changing Conservation Through Biodiversity Finance

Launched in 2012, BIOFIN is a global initiative supporting the development and implementation of national Biodiversity Finance Plans to transform how biodiversity finance is mobilized and allocated. The world's primary global conservation agreement, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, was adopted in December of 2022 in Montreal and includes 23 targets to be met by 2030.

These include the repurposing of subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least USD 500 billion yearly, the mobilization of USD 200 billion in annual domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from public and private-sector sources, plus raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries by at least USD30 billion yearly.

“This is where BIOFIN comes in,” explains BIOFIN Global Manager Onno van den Heuvel“We help local communities, civil society, national parks, private entities and government organizations catalyze investments that protect biodiversity, create jobs and opportunities, and secure a sustainable future for people and the planet.”

Over the past 11 years, BIOFIN has developed a 41-nation network covering biodiversity-rich regions across Africa, Europe, South and Central America, plus the Asia-Pacific Region. “We continuously refine our strategies, mechanisms and methodologies through national, regional and global learning exchanges such as this Regional Dialogue in Sri Lanka, ensuring our alignment with and contribution to relevant national, regional, and international discourse on biodiversity financing,” adds van den Heuvel.

In Sri Lanka, BIOFIN successfully introduced a National Sustainable Tourism Certification Scheme for accommodation and destination sectors in the country that provided opportunities for the private sector and government to invest in sustainable biodiversity management and establish livelihood in the tourism sector.

 S.L.M Naseer, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Lands in Sri Lanka in his keynote speech at the opening session stated, “BIOFIN's support has contributed to the promotion of sustainable tourism practices in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka National Sustainable Tourism Certification scheme has established rigorous standards for sustainability in the tourism sector. This not only benefits the environment but also ensures the long-term viability of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. Continued support from BIOFIN will further position the country as a leader in sustainable tourism within the region. This enhanced reputation will attract more tourists and investors interested in sustainable tourism initiatives.”

BIOFIN was also instrumental in the development of Sri Lanka’s Sustainable Finance Roadmap together with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka coupled with capacity development on sustainable financing initiatives for the banking sector. 

Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka in his message noted, “As Sri Lanka stands at a crucial juncture of recovery and stability, a well-balanced environment is a pre-requisite for sustainable economic development. Sri Lanka with its rich biodiversity has significant untapped potential in green finance markets which could be harnessed into development initiatives in areas such as sustainable biodiversity management, waste management, renewable energy and climate change adaptationBy integrating environmental consideration into financial investment decisions, it helps ensure that economic growth does not come at the expense of the environment.”

At the heart of BIOFIN’s work is implementing finance solutions to generate finance for nature. In his presentation of the global state of biodiversity finance, van den Heuvel shared that BIOFIN has catalyzed USD 400 million globally, unlocked over USD 1 billion with public finance having the largest share.

BIOFIN provides an innovative methodology enabling countries to measure their current biodiversity expenditures, assess their financial needs in the medium term, and identify the most suitable finance solutions to bridge their national biodiversity finance gaps,” says Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment in his message. “At the national level, key phases of the project including policy and institutional review, biodiversity expenditure review and the financial needs assessment were completed with the participation of key stakeholders in biodiversity and finance resource management,” he added.

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Saman
Saman
6 months ago

Very good initiative for the sustainable development area in Sri Lanka.
Interested.

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