Federal Environment Ministry supports partner countries coping with COVID-19 impacts with two global biodiversity initiatives
The Federal Environment Ministry is helping partner countries reduce the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on biodiversity and also supporting more sustainable economic recovery with a total of 35 million euros in funding from its International Climate Initiative. The Biodiversity Finance Initiative will help offset financing gaps in biodiversity conservation that have arisen due to the pandemic. The Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas Global Support Initiative is being funded in order to support especially vulnerable indigenous communities in 45 partner countries in their fight against the coronavirus and for more nature conservation. Both initiatives are part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). During the lead up to next year's 15th conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), the German government is underscoring its commitment to preserving biodiversity and improving pandemic prevention.
German Environment Minister Schulze commented: "The coronavirus crisis shows us very emphatically that we must better protect the natural foundations of life and biodiversity in order to improve protection against future pandemics. We would be well advised to take the scientific findings on how pandemics emerge seriously and act on them promptly in addition to current crisis management measures. The prevention of future pandemics starts now by tackling the destruction of nature at home and worldwide and by reducing global anthropogenic environmental changes. The global biodiversity initiatives should be a targeted help here. The destruction of nature is the crisis behind the crisis."
Large investments will be necessary, but compared to the cost of a pandemic, the cost of prevention is much lower. Experts of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) presented a workshop report at the end of October, warning that the risk of virus transmission from animal to human increases the more humans intervene in natural ecosystems and dismantle the barriers between pathogens and people. The report also warns that pandemics could occur with even greater frequency in the future due to the destruction of nature. Pandemics are caused by the same factors that contribute to biodiversity loss – above all by human encroachment on intact ecosystems, for example as a result of global agricultural expansion and intensification and unregulated wildlife trade. The funds available for nature conservation are being drastically reduced due to coronavirus-related cuts in the environmental sector, quarantines and lack of tourism revenues. In view of heavy economic losses and social emergencies, measures are currently being adopted around the world to help the economy recover as quickly as possible after the pandemic. Preserving biodiversity is not being considered in every case. Financing for the preservation, sustainable use and restoration of ecosystems has come to a standstill in many places, despite the pandemic showing the very close links between human health, animals and nature.
The Federal Environment Ministry is funding two global initiatives under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to counteract these trends, with 20 million euros going to the UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative, BIOFIN. Since 2012, BIOFIN has supported more than 30 countries in mobilising financial resources for biodiversity conservation. The implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its new post-2020 global biodiversity framework require sufficient investments. This is why partner countries are being helped to implement innovative, transformative financial solutions, also to offset revenues lost due to COVID-19. The measures cover a broad spectrum, from campaigns to mobilise local resources for protected areas all the way to consulting services for finance, planning and environment ministries to improve the integration of nature conservation and environmental topics in economic recovery programmes. Thanks to close cooperation with central banks, development banks and finance ministries in the BIOFIN partner countries, potential for medium-term support of climate and biodiversity-compatible recovery from the pandemic is being developed in the financial and private sectors.
The second phase of the Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas Global Support Initiative (ICCA GSI), which started in 2013, provides swift and direct support to indigenous and local communities. The initiative will support communities in 45 developing countries and emerging economies around the world in coping with the current crisis with an additional 15 million euros. Protecting and strengthening these vulnerable groups is also a key measure for pandemic prevention. Local communities and indigenous groups make vital contributions to preserving natural ecosystems by protecting and sustainably using their territories. They can reduce the risk of animal pathogens making the leap to humans. Sensitisation campaigns, the development of alternative, biodiversity-friendly income sources and measures to improve food security are just some of the areas receiving support in the form of funding for small projects. The rights of indigenous and local communities are also being made more robust nationally and internationally. These groups are key partners for effective nature conservation and climate action.
Over the long term, this makes an important contribution to implementing the CBD and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. 80 heads of state and government from around the world and numerous non-governmental organisations joined the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature ahead of the UN Biodiversity Summit in September 2020. Federal Chancellor Merkel joined the voluntary commitment on behalf of the German government