With not much obvious change happening within the voluntary carbon market as a result of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP27 in November, attention has turned to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15, currently taking place in Montreal, Canada. This COP has been dubbed the ‘Paris moment for nature’.
Following on from the failure of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in 2020, COP15 is expected to lead to the adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework. This involves the aim to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030 (30×30). However not all parties are currently agreeing on the best way forward, with walkouts occurring earlier this week. There has also been a focus on the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities at COP15 as 30×30 cannot be achieved without them.
Financing biodiversity conservation is one of the biggest barriers. Approximately half of global GDP is dependent on nature and functioning ecosystems in some form, yet it is reported that one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. According to a UN report, the world needs $384 billion a year by 2025 to protect nature and this rises to $674 by 2050. Currently this funding simply does not exist.
The current draft of the COP15 deal is hinted to include a reference to promoting financing schemes such as ‘biodiversity offsets’. Biodiversity credits have been supported by the UN Development Programme, who in a recent report stated that “biocredits” can direct revenue towards “effective biodiversity conservation and directly support locally-led action to ensure indigenous peoples and local communities can fully participate in and realise the benefits”. Outside of COP15, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Biodiversity Credit Alliance are discussing how to set up a voluntary market. Additionally, Verra are currently developing a biodiversity methodology in an effort to help drive investment and close the biodiversity finance gap. They plan to publish their methodology by the end of 2023. Project developers will be able to use the methodology to quantify the benefits of conservation and restoration activities creating biodiversity credits. Plan Vivo are also developing a biodiversity credit standard alongside the Biodiversity Credit Working Group. The difficulty is that biodiversity uplift is much harder to quantify than emission reductions.
Many agree that protecting the climate and protecting nature go hand in hand and it is time that that tangible progress is made in both areas. Securing increased funding towards these efforts is vital. The world waits to see how biodiversity loss and conservation will be addressed following on from COP15.