Rethinking the value of biodiversity to restore the Earth

QUEZON CITY, April 25 (PIA) -- The recent launch of the global report Economics of Biodiversity: Dasgupta Review has revived discussions around the question: “How does one live a sustainable life and help restore the Earth?” These conversations come at a timely opportunity in the recent 22 April celebration of Earth Day. With the report asserting that “our economies are embedded within nature, not external to it,” economic and environmental experts alike are now compelled to think about sustainable ways forward for people, the planet, and profit.

In line with this, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has initiated a webinar series on Conservation Financing. The first session of the webinar series, Introduction to Economics of Biodiversity and Conservation Finance, was held virtually on recently.

ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim, in her welcome remarks, pressed that essential services, such as water, clean air, flood mitigation and food supply, are provided by healthy ecosystems.

“Being able to value these contributions will present an even better case why one should pay closer attention to our high biodiversity areas such as our protected areas and ASEAN Heritage Parks, and invest in them,” Lim said.
 
The region’s protected areas, especially the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs), play a vital role in sustaining natural capital and the accompanying ecosystem services that provide the needed raw materials for most industries that drive the region’s economy. However, the sustainable management of these critical areas is hindered by insufficient financing.

Executive Director of the Conservation Finance Alliance David Meyers discussed the different funding tools available for conservation, defining conservation finance as “mechanisms and strategies that generate, manage, and deploy financial resources and align incentives to achieve nature conservation outcomes.”

To increase capital for conservation and bridge the USD 316 billion annual biodiversity finance gap, Meyers shared seven finance mechanisms: Return-Based Investments, Economic Instruments, Grants and Other Transfers, Business and Markets, Public Financial Management, Risk Management and Financial Efficiency.

The Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) Project of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the European Union supports the ASEAN Member States (AMS) in reducing biodiversity loss.
 
This persistent gap in financing for the protection and management of protected areas led to the ongoing study on Conservation Financing for five AHPs under the BCAMP funding support.  Two of the researchers on conservation financing shared preliminary results for the Eastern Forest Complex (EFCOM) in Thailand and the Virachey National Park in Cambodia.

In Cambodia, Virachey National Park, at its current area of 332,500 hectares, has an approximate 115,030,970 (MgC) tons of carbon stored in its vast array of forest ecosystems potentially be counted as carbon credits. This, according to Dr Chou Phanith, may be adequate to finance biodiversity conservation and livelihoods in the national park.
 
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Forest Complex of Thailand, the environmental impacts of the proposed flooding of the Ang Rue Nai Wildlife sanctuary for water supply threaten critical elephant habitat. It was shared during the virtual session how the bid to restore the complex’s ecosystem can significantly reduce the risks for both elephants and humans.
 
Data shows that the Philippine forests and coral reefs could generate approximate 300 US dollar per hectare per year and 450 US dollar per hectare per year, respectively. However, despite being one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, a gap exists in the allocated funds for the management of protected areas.
 
Protected area managers and key environment officials from the ASEAN Member States discussed potential efforts to augment revenue and diversify funding sources to finance conservation across the region.
 
On 27 April, the second session to the conservation finance webinar series will facilitate an in-depth discussion of the economics of biodiversity, taking off from the recommendations of the  Dasgupta Review. The webinar aims to explore actions and priorities in the ASEAN context and build a good case for investing in nature and biodiversity-related actions, including protected areas. (PIA NCR)



Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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