Conservation Finance Options to Support African Post-2020 Biodiversity Priorities
Globally, we are in the midst of an unprecedented environmental crisis, in particular of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation (the biodiversity crisis) and the compounding climate change crisis. Under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the global community failed to meet any of the conservation targets set for 2020 (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets) to halt and reverse the biodiversity crisis. A new set of targets for the coming decade is currently being negotiated. The reasons for the original failure are many, but one key cause is the lack of funding for implementation, despite explicit agreement under Aichi Target 20 to mobilise such funding. In part, this is because conservation finance is still viewed as a cost to society, as a luxury we can ill afford given other pressing socio-economic needs. However, a wealth of evidence now informs us that, when measured appropriately, such financing is not a cost but an investment in the ecosystem services on which all of humanity depends. Increasingly, traditional financial investment mechanisms are being applied to support conservation activities and are showing measurable benefits. As this evidence mounts, understanding of conservation finance as an investment is gathering momentum and offering new opportunities for innovative economic investment approaches. Building on the success of debt-for-nature swaps and other ‘green’ financial instruments, this paper outlines the rationale and investment opportunities for the financial underpinning of Africa’s post-2020 biodiversity priorities. It also proposes a greater role for African leadership in driving this agenda.