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Launch of Global Biodiversity Framework Fund Marks Pivotal Moment In the Fight Against Biodiversity Loss

CRISIS - Mass Extinction by Giovanni Prete Global Commons Sep 12th 20235 mins
Launch of Global Biodiversity Framework Fund Marks Pivotal Moment In the Fight Against Biodiversity Loss

During the Global Environment Facility’s Seventh Assembly in Vancouver last month, Canada and the United Kingdom unveiled the groundbreaking Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF), marking a pivotal moment in the global effort to combat biodiversity loss. This monumental initiative, signed by representatives of 185 countries, aims to bolster investments in nations striving to meet the goals outlined in the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework. This initiative marks a significant step toward addressing the pressing issue of biodiversity loss and protecting our planet’s ecosystems. 

Setting the Stage for Biodiversity Conservation 

The inception of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) was ratified during the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Seventh Assembly, which took place on August 24, 2023 amidst the raging wildfires that spread out across British Columbia and the Northwestern part of Canada. This milestone comes in the wake of the United Nations’ biodiversity conference, COP15, which took place in Montréal, Quebec in December 2022. At the conference, international delegates committed to a set of goals enshrined in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The framework serves as a roadmap designed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, putting nature on a path to recovery by 2030. 

“We welcome the ratification and launch of the fund. We also welcome the contributions from donors which will facilitate the early operationalisation of the fund in advance of COP16. This shows the determination of the world community to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and shows that the world is moving from agreement to action,” said David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

cop15 deal; cop15; UN biodiversity conference; Global Biodiversity Framework Fund

Negotiators and representatives from 195 countries and more than 1,300 organisations gathered in Montreal for COP15 reached a historic deal to protect the world’s biodiversity and provide finance to restore habitats in the developing world.

With its ambitious objectives – including the 30×30 goal requiring the effective conservation or restoration of at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water, coastal, and marine areas by 2030, whilst also recognising the important role of Indigenous communities in preserving our ecosystems – the framework provides a holistic approach to addressing biodiversity loss. However, its successful implementation hinges on substantial financial support, particularly for developing countries that harbor the world’s richest biodiversity. Indeed, while the signing of the GBF during COP15 proved to be an ambitious moment for the world, its true success depends on the equitable flow of financial aid from developed to developing countries. 

Nearly nine months later, the GEF took the necessary step to mobilise and accelerate investment from various sources to support nations in their efforts to conserve and sustainably manage biodiversity. 

You might also like: The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, Explained

Why Is Global Biodiversity Framework Fund Important?

The urgency of this initiative cannot be overstated. According to a comprehensive assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2019, approximately one million species of plants and animals face extinction due to a range of factors, including wildfires, flooding, extreme weather events, and unsustainable human activities such as industrial agriculture, consumption patterns, and urban expansion. 

The commitment to this fund was bolstered by the initial contributions of two nations: Canada pledged CA$200 million (US$146.8 million), and the UK pledged £10 million (US$12.58 million) to kickstart the fund’s capitalisation. Canada also announced an additional CA$22.8 million (US$16.8 million) in funding for the Global Environment Facility’s eighth replenishment, demonstrating its commitment to addressing the interconnected challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. 

Empowering Indigenous and Local Communities 

A key feature of the GBFF is its commitment to supporting Indigenous and local action to protect and conserve biodiversity. Approximately 20% of the fund’s resources are earmarked for this purpose. This is a significant development, as Indigenous groups have often been sidelined when it comes to receiving biodiversity and climate funds. The fund’s establishment aligns with the GBF’s goals, which recognise the crucial role and rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in conserving biodiversity in their lands and territories. The framework also emphasises their equitable participation in decision-making processes.

Lucy Mulenkei, co-chair of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) and a member of the Indigenous advisory group to the Global Environmental Facility, expressed hope and motivation in response to the fund’s commitment to supporting IPLCs. She highlighted the importance of recognising and supporting efforts to conserve biodiversity at the local level. 

“The creation of this fund and its commitment to supporting Indigenous Peoples and local communities is an important and clear recognition of the fundamental role they have had for generations protecting biodiversity. We will only achieve the shared vision of a healthy planet and healthy people with collective, inclusive actions, and a human rights approach where we all hold hands together,” said Mulenkei.

Protecting Valuable Nations 

Additionally, the GBFF places a strong focus on aiding the most vulnerable nations, including small island developing states and least developed countries, which are disproportionately affected by biodiversity loss and climate change. At least 36% of the fund’s resources are allocated to support these regions. Given the urgent need for resources to meet ambitious biodiversity targets, this commitment is a vital step in the right direction. 

Challenges and Call for Further Action 

Despite promising initial contributions, some concerns persist. The current funding falls short by an estimated US$40 million needed to operationalise the GBFF fully. Human rights and environmental activists are calling for additional contributions to ensure the fund’s effectiveness in tackling the global biodiversity crisis. The fund’s initial target is to secure at least three donors contributing a total of $200 million by December 2023, with Canada and the UK providing around $160 million. 

What is more, advocates are urging the Global Environmental Facility’s Council to take immediate action in allocating funds to Indigenous groups. They emphasise the importance of transforming the aspirational share for funding for Indigenous communities into a firm target of the agreed-upon 20% allocation. 

Towards a Brighter Biodiversity Future

Without a doubt, the launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund represents a pivotal moment in global efforts to combat biodiversity loss and safeguard our planet’s rich ecosystems. With its focus on Indigenous and local empowerment and support for vulnerable nations, the fund has the potential to make a substantial contribution to achieving the goals outlined in the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, effectively putting nature on a path to recovery by 2030. Nonetheless, it is imperative that the GEF secures additional commitments to guarantee the fund’s complete operationalisation and capacity to effectively confront the pressing challenges that our planet faces. It is through the collective efforts of governments, organisations, and individuals that the way for a more promising and sustainable future, where biodiversity thrives, can be paved. 

Featured image: Jean-Louis Aubert/Unsplash

You might also like: The Remarkable Benefits of Biodiversity

Tagged: cop15

About the Author

Giovanni Prete

Giovanni Prete is a Greek Canadian environmental communicator, writer and advocate. He has worked for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, as well as the Greek environmental NGO All For Blue Organisation, the Embassy of Greece in London, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). He has also worked as the Operations Manager of the Canadian charity The Hellenic Initiative Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English Literature and Film Studies from the University of Leeds, a Master of Arts in History from University College London (UCL), and a Graduate Diploma in Communications Management from McGill University. Giovanni is also a certified diver from PADI, and has been actively engaged in ocean advocacy. He is the founder and leader of a team on his native island of Corfu, Greece, representing All For Blue Organisation, which organizes beach and underwater cleanups. The team has made a notable difference within the local island community, gaining recognition and support from both media and the public. His interests include marine conservation, climate change and indigenous communities.

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