• Helen Avery

World Bank meetings tackle financing nature

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

On October 17 during the IMF annual Fall meetings, the World Bank hosted a session on Investing in Nature. While banking heads and investment managers were absent - meeting elsewhere in Washington D.C - the session gathered a panel that outlined the pressing risks of continued degradation of nature, and shared examples of how policy changes and stakeholder collaboration could lead to action.

“We are destroying nature,” began Sir Bob Watson of the IPBES, describing the Paris Pledge as “totally and utterly inadequate to meet 2.5 degrees.”

“We have got to get a handle on it. The rhetoric is there but the action is not,” continued Watson. Speaking about the anticipation of the CBD meeting in China in 2020 he said: “I keep hearing from ministers we need more ambition but we are not even meeting the targets we set 10 years ago (referring to the Aichi targets.)”

Watson added that if we do not tackle biodiversity and climate change none of the SDGs will be met. “We need to change the way we change – incremental change is not going to get us there - and look at climate and biodiversity together.”

The UK’s secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, highlighted that the UK has doubled its commitments to climate change - within which biodiversity oversight is included. He added that the economic impact of biodiversity loss was on the UK government’s radar and that it ministries of finance, agriculture and the environment are working together towards policies that tackle oceans, biodiversity and climate together. (One criticism of global governments in their lack of financial commitment to nature has been that ministries of finance do not regard the environment as having a cost and therefore have not placed funding of nature as a priority. A second criticism raised during the session was that biodiversity and climate must not be kept separate when it comes to policy setting.)

Alexander Chiteme, Zambia’s minister of national development and planning, highlighted the work being done by the Zambian government. It has used natural capital accounting to value its land, water and forests. “That valuation has helped us set policies that make sure we get economic benefit from those natural resources, and also protect them from degradation,” said Chiteme. He added that changing mindsets is crucial – helping people understand that they can make more money from regenerative or sustainable businesses - and pointing out that natural capital accounting had helped make that case. Finance for a transition is needed however, he said, adding firmly that it was not fair for international governments to put pressure on Africa, that is not a major contributor to carbon emissions, to “borrow money and take loans” to improve sustainability/reduce emissions.

Vice president of the national park authority for Argentina, Emiliano Ezcurro, shared an example where a grant from The GEF had helped transition communities that were deforesting into beekeepers – developing honey that will be sold internationally at a premium for it high environmental and social value.

And Naoko Ishii, chief executive officer of the Global Environmental Facility (the GEF) highlighted the importance of multiple stakeholders coming together to work to protect biodiversity.

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