An important and timely report is published this week by The Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Cornell Atkinson Centre for Sustainability. It makes the economic case for valuing nature, and explores innovative financing mechanisms, policies, and solutions that could help close the biodiversity financing gap.

What is the “biodiversity financing gap”? 

This is the gap between the amount currently spent on biodiversity conservation, and the amount actually needed. In 2019, this was estimated to be between US $598 billion and $824 billion globally per year 1

Bridging this gap is vital to combat the accelerating biodiversity loss driven by humans across the Earth. Climate change, also driven by human activities, is exacerbating further these dramatic declines. 

How do we bridge the gap?

The report outlines a set of nine wide-ranging financial and policy mechanisms, each with specific recommendations to follow. It makes the case that, if scaled correctly through the right public policies and private sector actions, then the biodiversity funding gap can be substantively closed over the next decade. 

These mechanisms cover, 

  • Harmful Subsidy Reform, 
  • Investment Risk Management, 
  • Biodiversity Offsets, 
  • Domestic tax policy and budgets, 
  • Natural Infrastructure, 
  • Green Financial products, 
  • Nature-based solutions and Carbon markets, 
  • Official Development Assistance,  
  • Sustainable Supply Chains.  

It makes the case overall, that addressing the biodiversity funding gap will require a transformational shift in the way markets, and the discipline of economics more broadly, value nature. For this shift to be effective, it will need to be reflected across public and private sectors as well as the general public. 

A key role for government

The report also places strong emphasis on the vital role governments across the world need to play to bring about change. Indeed the key finding among the reports overarching recommendations, stated “that governments must undertake catalytic policy reforms to unleash biodiversity funding”. To help bring this about, the report sets out six overarching recommended actions, that complement and accelerate the nine financial and policy mechanisms. 

Failing to address the hugely alarming decline in biodiversity globally presents profound risks to human societies. Taken together these social, economic and environmental risks make an overwhelming case for protecting and enhancing our planets stock of natural capital. This is before we consider that the intrinsic ‘value’ of nature is ultimately unquantifiable, and we have a duty to protect it. To achieve our goal to increase long-term investment in biodiversity, joined-up action across public, and private sectors will be required within a robust framework from government, the report published this week provides many practical recommendations to help us get there. 

Read the full report here.

An official online launch event for the report takes place on Thursday 17 September, register for the live event here

1 Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap