Thailand nationals: National Environmental Economist

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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Available evidence and the decisions adopted by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) indicate that a significant gap remains in finance for biodiversity management, for countries to drastically scale up their efforts and achieve the 20 Aichi Targets defined in the CBD’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2020. A preliminary assessment recently conducted under the auspices of the High-level Panel on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the CBD Strategic Plan estimated that the global investment required ranges between US$130 and 440 billion annually. While useful, this and similar other global estimates are based on extrapolations sensitive to the underlying assumptions. To define biodiversity finance needs and gaps with greater precision and determine related challenges and opportunities for resource mobilisation, detailed national-level (bottom-up) assessments are therefore required.

In this context, UNDP in October 2012 launched the Biodiversity Finance Initiative – BIOFIN, as a new global partnership seeking to address the biodiversity finance challenge in a comprehensive manner – building a sound business case for increased investment in the management of ecosystems and biodiversity, with a particular focus on the needs and transformational opportunities at the national level.

BIOFIN is managed by UNDP, in partnership with the European Commission and the Governments of Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Flanders. As of July 2015, the joint contributions of BIOFIN’s five partners stand at USD 29 million, and the total number of core countries involved at 30. The 30 countries participate in BIOFIN including: Botswana, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Seychelles, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia.

Guided by a steering committee representing the partners, BIOFIN works along two main axes:

I) Globally-led development of a new methodological framework. An entirely new methodological framework is being developed and piloted for undertaking national-level “bottom-up” analyses of the finance-relevant enabling context; for determining the current / baseline investment in biodiversity; for quantifying the full cost of meeting national biodiversity conservation targets and the resulting finance gap; and for assessing the suitability of financial mechanisms and developing national resource mobilisation strategies that are fully appropriated by national governments and other key in-country stakeholders. The methodologies applied in the project will be refined through regional and global learning, and made available more widely.

II) Adaptation and implementation of this new methodological framework at national level. To help countries increase the importance attributed to biodiversity and in consequence bridge the financing gap, the work at national level will be led by Ministries of Finance, Economics or Planning and the Ministry of Environment. It is articulated through the following components:

1. Analyze the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in sectoral and development policy, planning and budgeting. Participating countries will analyse the current policy and institutional frameworks affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services both positively and negatively, and quantify related investments through comprehensive reviews of past and current (baseline) public and private expenditures. Analyses of impact, effectiveness and coherence will provide key opportunities for mainstreaming, aimed at reducing the cost of biodiversity management, such as through the removal of perverse incentives.

2. Assess future financing flows, needs and gaps for managing and conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services. Participating countries will project anticipated future investment in biodiversity, and determine the financing needed to meet agreed national priorities reflecting the CBD Aichi Targets, building on and interacting with the NBSAP process, and taking into account cost-effectiveness and the effects of an improved enabling environment. The difference between the projected future investment and the required investment will enable the quantification of the finance gap.

3. Develop comprehensive national Resource Mobilization Strategies to meet the biodiversity finance gap. Following an assessment of the full range of potential financing mechanisms (traditional and innovative, national and international), each participating country will develop a strategy to address the finance gap, combining suitable and nationally-adapted mechanisms. The strategy will analyse opportunities, risks and barriers related to the implementation of these mechanisms and provide solutions and recommendations, including on the enabling environment and safeguards.

4. Initiate implementation of the Resource Mobilization Strategy at national level. Countries will begin implementing recommendations pertaining to a priority subset of the identified financing mechanisms – regarding aspects such as institutional requirements, laws and regulations, taxes and fees, identification of legal thresholds, removal of biodiversity-harmful incentives, further feasibility studies and implementation plans, certification processes, public-private-partnerships, voluntary agreements, etc.

For Thailand, the initiative has become operational in June 2014. The BIOFIN in Thailand is designed to support the country in translating the 12th National Economics and Social Development Plan, which highlights the importance of sustainable utilization of natural resources as a foundation to green growth and inclusive development, into implementation with financial strategies, especially with regards to the Integrated National Biodiversity Strategic and Action Plan (NBSAP). The work of UNDP’s BIOFIN is supported by the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) under the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other key government agencies in Thailand.