Biodiversity is a key for sustainable development and human well-being but sadly despite all our efforts the biodiversity is declining faster than any other time in human history. The survival of our Mother Earth depends on biodiversity more than we can ever imagine. The world population of 8-billion people represents only 0.01% of all living things by weight but our unsustainable activities are responsible for eroding much of world’s ecological foundations. Human actions are having devastating impact on environment, with over one million species at risk of extinction, 40% of world’s land already being degraded and forest fires, floods and storms being more extensive than ever and wildlife population sizes have shrunken drastically. The loss of biodiversity comes at a greater cost for human prosperity and the global economy. There is no sustainable development without biodiversity. Our food production systems depend in countless ways on biodiversity from domestic crop varieties and livestock, to wild species such as bees and earthworms, to whole ecosystem such as forests, grasslands, seagrass beds and coral reefs.
Biodiversity is essential for life, long term sustainable future of our planet, critical to ensure human bliss, maintaining livelihoods and improving food security systems, making it available for generations to come. It increases resilience to shocks and stresses, provides opportunities to adapt production systems to emerging challenges and is a key resource in efforts to increase output in a sustainable way. Protecting biodiversity is not only good for natural ecosystems, but also for the people that inhabit them. The World Economic Forum has estimated that the amount of funding required to pull-up biodiversity loss range between $722 billion and $967 billion per year but currently there’s a huge financing gap in this context. In order to reverse the current crisis, policymakers are pushing to monetize the solutions and are advocating their support to scale-up financing for nature. One such opportunity comes in the form of biodiversity credits/ bio-credits, wherein entities can invest in environmental projects that contribute to a richer biodiversity.
Piloting Biodiversity financing presents a huge opportunity for all actors and market participants, like, indigenous peoples and local communities, private sector, public sector and civil society, to play a key role both in terms of adopting the global biodiversity framework in their strategies and operations moreover helping unlock financing for protection and restoration of nature. A 'biodiversity credit' is an economic instrument that is used to incentivize activities that deliver net positive biodiversity gains through the creation and sale of biodiversity units. Unlike carbon or biodiversity offsets, which are payments made by private players to compensate for the damaging impacts on location-specific ecosystems, biodiversity credits allow companies to support nature-positive action offering long-term nature funding, sustainable solutions than just simply offsetting negative impact.
Humanity has an urgent responsibility to build a healthy future, supporting and backing the concept of financing the Nature in form of Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that offers an opportunity as a first step in resetting our relationship with Mother Earth and thereby ensuring roadmap to achieve 30-by-30 targets. Sustainable development unit programme of New Zealand, Voluntary biodiversity credits scheme of Colombia, Australia’s ‘Nature Repair Market’ and Wallacea Trust biodiversity credits methodology are some of the initiatives being undertaken and such innovative resources offer means to address biodiversity loss. The concept of biodiversity credits markets deliver just and equitable benefits for the stewards of biodiversity. The newly adopted GBF at Montreal-COP15 wherein member nations agreed to protect and restore at least 30% of the planet’s land and water by 2030 is a welcome step and offers a way towards resilient future. The framework provides a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade. The historic deal was agreed by member leaders to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, by way of ensuring $200 billion per year to be channelized into conservation initiatives, both from public and private players.
India is recognized as one among the seventeen mega-diverse countries, rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge. Under dynamic leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister we are pro-active in implementing ‘Aichi targets’ and our trajectory is on track in meeting the commitments. Few initiatives like Namami Gange Initiative, Cheetah Reintroduction Project, LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) and One World, One Family, One Future, received global recognition. At COP15, India presented its concrete vision and roadmap for preserving nature sustainably that continues to benefit present and future generations. Our country has emerged as a torch bearer in the league of nature conscious nations and has strongly proposed the creation of new and dedicated fund to tackle biodiversity loss. It was presented that technological innovations offer better ways to enhance biodiversity protection without sacrificing economic output achievable. The commitment of our country on the challenging issues of preserving nature is praiseworthy, by way of transitioning to sustainable and regenerative food production systems which in turn helps in creating jobs, uplifting rural communities and delivering significant co-benefits for human health, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.
The clock is ticking, tackling climate change, protecting biodiversity and preserving precious ecosystems are inseparable and it’s time for all of us to stand together so as to protect people and the planet. The path towards achieving 30-by-30 targets, is a long one with new challenges and ever changing goals. Investing in livestock builds resilience and enables communities to plan for the better and resilient future. Empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices by way of nature financing, rewarding climate smart regenerative livestock farming, providing tax rebates on low carbon behavior, promoting climate financing, adopting precision farming and encouraging circular bioeconomy practices in food production systems, shall pave a way towards reversing the negative effects of climate change and biodiversity loss.
With a sole objective of protecting livelihood of 1.30 billion people, who are associated with livestock sector and to alleviate global hunger, it is imperative for us to scale-up funding for nature. No doubt livestock has the potential to protect biodiversity and it is high time to channelize increased biodiversity financing into the sector which in turn may offer novel opportunities to improve ecosystem’s well being thereby addressing multiple and interconnected drivers of biodiversity loss. It seems that working with Mother Nature rather than against her, offers greater benefits to our environment, resources, health and community. Biodiversity financing is the wave of the future and has the potential to change the health of our planet, as we know it.
Dr. Faazil Bashir Rather, Technical Officer (Poultry), Directorate of Animal Husbandry Kashmir,
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.