Georgia is located in the South Caucasus region, bordering the Russian Federation in the north, Republic of Turkey and Armenia to the south, Azerbaijan to the east and the Black Sea to the west. Due to its diverse relief and climatic zones, Georgia is rich in biodiversity and hosts a high level of endemism (IUCN, 2012). Based on richness of biodiversity and related threats, 34 biodiversity hotspots have been identified in the world today and, of these, Georgia is part of two.
Due to habitat destruction and extensive, unregulated exploitation, many plant and animal species have become endangered, with 29 mammal, 35 bird, 11 reptile, two amphibian, 14 fish and 56 woody plant species currently included on the national Red List.
Georgia’s 2005 NBSAP recommends “mainstreaming nature’s value in decision making” to ensure that appropriate financial and economic programmes are in place to support effective conservation of biodiversity, and to ensure the delivery of the NBSAP activities.
Tourism related to protected areas has been a steadily growing sector of the Georgian economy. This sector could be used for economic development. Forests cover around 40% of Georgia’s territory and provide habitat for a significant number of fauna and flora species of Georgia. Forests however are under threat from unsustainable logging, overgrazing and land encroachment.
Prioritized Finance Solutions
1. Improving state budget justification capacity at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) - This solution aims to develop capacity at MEPA to produce and present well-formulated results-based budgets that meet the requirements of MoF and are supported by powerful socio-economic justifications. This will result in increased state budget allocation to priority biodiversity actions.The solution requires technical assistance, capacity development and research facilitation elements at MEPA.
Progress so far: Draft state budget 2019 for biodiversity-related activities/programmes with respective justifications was elaborated. The draft budget has been reviewed with principal stakeholders including Environmental Protection Parliamentary Committee. Currently the negotiations regarding the inclusion of new biodiversity state programme is underway with the ministry of Finance. Medium-term action plan 2020-2023 is under preparation.
2. Improving EIA quality, expertise and effectiveness - This solution aims to ensure adequate assessment and evaluation of biodiversity into the EIA process. More specifically, to include biodiversity into EIA for Hydro Power Plants in accordance to current Georgian legislation, best international practice and Georgian country specifics. The result is avoided loss of biodiversity and reduced future cost of restoration from planned economic activities.
Progress so far: Draft of guideline and checklist was prepared and is currently discussed with the key stakeholders.
3. Building country capacity for fundraising for priority nature conservation and management objectives - Initial actions include the following: develop a pilot program for the Tbilisi Zoo targeting individuals and corporate donors, creating an online donation platform and train the Zoo staff for developing specific fundraising and PR campaigns for biodiversity conservation actions.
Progress so far: Elaboration of Fundraising Action Plan for Tbilisi Zoo’s Conservation efforts is underway. The fundraising plan will target 3 endemic endangered species - Tur, Bezoar Goat and Deer. Additionally, the fundraising plan will also cover captive bears rehabilitation. Currently the sponsorship packages are being calculated.
4. Improving the ecotouristic offerings in state forest areas - This solution aims to prepare eco-tourism development action plan for state forest fund in Borjomi Municipality
Progress so far: Identification of potential destinations had been completed. The draft action plan is being developed and will be submitted to National Forest Agency in nearest future.
The Biodiversity Finance Policy and Institutional Review forms a reference point for the whole BIOFIN process. The document establishes a baseline of the national policy and institutional context in which the BIOFIN project is expected to expand biodiversity finance in Georgia.
A Biodiversity Expenditure Review is focused on all types of expenditure contributing to sustainable biodiversity protection and management. Along with the public-sector expenditures, private sector spending and spending by international donor organizations, and NGOs are analyzed. Based on these analyses, there are calculated total expenditure figures, useful to summarize the BD financing trends and status on national level.
The Financial Needs Assessment (FNA) study revealed and calculated the total amount of funding required to sustain and protect biodiversity in Georgia. FNA covered not only NBSAP, but other areas which have a significant effect on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
This Biodiversity Finance Plan (BFP) has been developed to identify and support the implementation of biodiversity finance solutions that together have the potential to significantly improve the management and financing of biodiversity management in Georgia.