India’s Biodiversity Finance Plan launched on International Biodiversity Day

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India’s Vice President Shri Venkaiah Naidu launched India’s Biodiversity Finance Plan on Wednesday during celebrations in Chennai for International Day of Biological Diversity.

In his address, the Vice President highlighted that conservation of nature and natural resources is an innate aspect of the Indian psyche and faith, reflected in religious practices, folklore, art and culture permeating every aspect of the daily lives of people.

He brought to the attention of the audience the overwhelming message from a recently released UN Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that nature is in trouble because of human actions. He urged everyone to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, which is critical for achieving many Sustainable Development Goals also.

‘The Biodiversity Finance Plan: Working Document’ launched at the event and produced through BIOFIN India and the National Biodiversity Authority is based on a resource gap derived from first-order assessments of biodiversity attributable expenditure and finance needs  carried out in the country under the BIOFIN Initiative and  seeks to facilitate the implementation of India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP).

The Biodiversity Finance Plan maps out twelve potential finance solutions to bridge the finance gap for the implementation of NBAP taking in to account all existing financial instruments as well as innovative instruments being tested in the country. The 12 finance solutions suggested in the Biodiversity Finance Plan: Working Document include:

  • Augmenting Dedicated Public Finance
  • Conservation Fund for Protected Areas
  • Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Public Finance
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Augmenting Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Green Fund
  • Access and Benefit Sharing
  • Environment Damages Fund
  • Ecological Fiscal Transfers
  • Accessing Global Climate Change Funds and Official Development Assistance (ODA)
  • Payment for Ecosystem Services, CAMPA
  • Leveraging Fiscal Policy Instruments and User Charges

Out of these 12 finance solutions, the National Biodiversity Authority and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, has identified three finance solutions to be piloted through BIOFIN – Mainstreaming Biodiversity in the Agriculture Sector, Corporate Social Responsibility and Access and Benefit Sharing.

The first finance solution is to enhance agricultural related conservation by increasing fund flow in biodiversity relevant schemes by the Ministry of Agriculture. With the agricultural sector having a large impact on natural resources and biodiversity, homing in on this sector to ensure finance for biodiversity-friendly policies and activities can lay the foundation for better conservation while improving agricultural sustainability and food security.

This shall be accomplished by analysing biodiversity-relevant schemes of the Ministry of Agriculture, identifying States with a good track record of implementation, documenting this knowledge, and preparing specific suggestions to re-orient schemes and programmes to enhance biodiversity relevance and scale up implementation across all States.

The second finance solution taps the enormous potential of CSR funds in India. Only 2-3% of all India’s CSR funding goes towards biodiversity-related activities. CSR was only made mandatory for companies in 2014. High earning companies must pay 2% of three-year average annual profits.

CSR funds are already likely to cross USD 6.9 billion in 2019. BIOFIN is working towards policy reform to ensure companies must earmark more CSR funds for biodiversity conservation while advocating for using them for key areas of the country’s action plan such as conservation and restoration of wetlands and endangered plant species.

Some of the activities mapped out, include a corporate conclave to gather key industry players, development of proposals to support identified priority conservation areas, organising exposure trips for CSR leads, and developing a knowledge exchange platform among corporate partners.

The third finance solution involves enhancing resources for benefit-sharing from access and use of bio-resources in India. India can unlock large amounts of finance through curbing the illegal use of bio-resources ensuring profits from India’s bio-genetic resources are equitably shared and channelled back into conservation projects. Key activities include maintaining a database of applications on usage of bio-resources to collect upfront fees and appropriate assessment of ABS fees for those involved in commercial scale operations.

One of the 17 mega-diversity countries of the world, India is ranked 8th in species richness. Making up 2.4% of the world's land area, India harbours 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 47,000 species of plants and over 96,000 species of animals.

For India, conservation of biodiversity is crucial not only because it provides several goods and services necessary for human survival, but it is also directly linked with providing livelihoods and improving socio-economic conditions for millions of people.