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Workshop on Integration of Biodiversity Considerations into Policies of Financial and Private Sectors

Background

The workshop discussed financial and economic issues of the EECCA Environmental Strategy for the 5th Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" (Kiev, May 2003), integration of biodiversity considerations into policies of financial and private sectors. In addition, incentives to facilitate partnerships among governmental, NGO, and private sectors, based on CBD/PEBLDS implementation within the framework of EECCA Environmental Strategy was touched upon.

The following trends were identified and discussed:

  • sections devoted to economic and financial instruments are the weakest and both not well elaborated and not duly attended to;
  • biologists tend to claim that biodiversity loss should be handled uniformly across the board and setting priorities in this area should not be done;
  • biologists do not seem eager to deal with economic issues while there are very few economists that venture to enter this largely unexplored ground;
  • government authorities always complaining about the lack of budgetary money are increasingly anxious to know about the efficiency of their meagre allocations for biodiversity conservation and most biologists can hardly prove the usefulness of biodiversity and their work for the society, economic growth and the like;
  • the increasing value of biodiversity for society, of ecosystem goods and services is hardly assessed, if known at all;
  • private firms increasingly earn huge profits from making use of and trading in ecosystem goods and services while not being involved in biodiversity conservation activity;
  • for countries rich in natural capital (ecological donors) biodiversity is rather a curse than a blessing that could raise their well-being;
  • the value of traditional knowledge and expertise in regard to biodiversity is hardly tapped and duly rewarded in a proper way;
  • nature protected areas as institutions do not consider biodiversity conservation as a financially rewarding activity, it is usually a sink but not a source of finances.

Furthermore, the Workshop included two trainings sessions. One of them dealt with GEF project development guidelines. The other was focused on EBRI 2 (European Biodiversity Resourcing Initiative, phase 2). The rationale of the latter training was twofold. First, it was also presented at the Kiev Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe". Second, experts from the EECCA countries were informed of the future activities of the EBRI 2 in which they could play a significant role by discussing bankable biodiversity projects in the EECCA region.

Conclusions and recommendations

The Workshop notes with satisfaction recent development of activities in the countries of Eastern Europe for the integration of economic and financial instruments in biodiversity conservation strategies and practical implementation of these instruments, including economic assessment of biodiversity, efficiency of financial investments in wild nature protection, selection of financing priorities and establishment of new economic and financial instruments. Foreign and international donors, such as GEF, UNEP, USAID, DFID, IUCN, The MacArthur Foundation etc played a useful role in this respect.

Today international cooperation between the CIS countries and their foreign partners is of particular importance due to the need to emphasize and to apply the ever-increasing role of biodiversity and conditionally renewable natural assets value as an important measure of regional, national, sub-national and local richness in macro- and micro-economic indicators of development, as well as to facilitate conservation (restoration) of integrity of ecosystems and their components, their sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits of their usage, inter alia by the local population.

The participants showed interest in a thorough study of GEF areas of activity presented at the Conference and the possibilities of financing projects within its framework. In doing so they noted that GEF should display flexibility in respect of substantial areas of projects financing, particularly in supporting projects aimed at facilitating the transition to sustainable development and updating strategies and plans of action for biodiversity conservation. They supported the European Biodiversity Resources Initiative (EBRI) and activities carries out within its framework. The Workshop adopted the following recommendations:

1. Environmental policy as well as national and sub-national biodiversity conservation strategies of the CIS countries should include economic and financial instruments for their implementation taking into account the experience accumulated by these countries at the national and sub-national levels as well as by the countries of Western Europe.

2. To develop inter-state cooperation in the improvement of methodology and exchange of experience in conducting a full-scale economic assessment of ecosystems and their components and establishment and introduction in the CIS countries of approaches and methods of such economic assessment compatible with that of the Western countries.

3. To develop and practically apply an ecological and economic assessment of biodiversity in the calculation of compensatory payments for damage caused to wild nature.

4. Noting actual achievements in conducting biodiversity economic assessment, ecologization of the land cadastre assessment, evaluation of financial investments efficiency and establishment of new financial and economic mechanisms, to recommend and utilize this experience in the CIS countries, particularly in the preparation and implementation of projects in the field of land use ecologization and establishment of ecosystems in rural areas.

5. To take steps to the establishment of an adequate and equitable international market exchange in goods and services produced by ecosystems.

6. To use the mechanism of external debts restructuring in the CIS countries following the pattern “debts in exchange for nature” with a view to wild nature conservation.

7. Considering that co-financing of environmental projects using own funds is a pre-requisite for the provision of international finances for such projects it is required to establish at the country and regional levels the mechanisms for attracting additional financial resources from internal sources promoting exchange of experience in this area.

8. To work with private sector in order to increase the ecological friendliness of various branches of economy and industrial enterprises and to reduce their adverse effect, particularly through:

  • better ecological knowledge of enterprises’ managers and their main staff;
  • introduction of new ecologically sound technologies;
  • practical application of ecological insurance and certification;
  • establishment and introduction of a system of ecological ratings of major companies.

9. To develop an economic mechanism for private sector involvement and consolidation of funds of other sectors in the ecological restoration of natural ecosystems of high environmental value (particularly steppes, broad-leafed forests, relic and vulnerable ecosystems).

10. To recommend to develop national programs to restore the system of complex phytomass improvement in the forest-steppe and steppe zones in Moldova and Ukraine focusing on market mechanisms for financing these activities and taking into account the possibilities of involving NGOs and public at large in the elaboration and practical implementation of these programs at various stages.

11. Taking note of the positive role of Russia-GEF Biodiversity Conservation Project in the systematization and presentation of a database and a general review of financial arrangements for nature conservation existing in Russia, to recommend other countries of the region to prepare similar reviews.

12. Mindful that the low level of living of the rural population in the CIS countries has created threats to biodiversity, to recommend the introduction of local social and economic mechanisms for sustainable use of nature and restoration of wild nature, particularly in the areas inhabited by globally endangered species (saiga, sturgeon species, etc.).

13. To develop and introduce in the land use system institutional, legal and economic mechanisms for the acquisition of land areas by private investors for nature conservation purposes and for the establishment of an institute of environmental servitude.

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