Wildlife & Biodiversity

Lateral Thoughts: Biodiversity management is in transition

Involvement of community in implementation of biodiversity projects is the much needed change

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Monday 28 August 2023

The recently concluded Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly has made it clear that meeting the targets and goals set down by the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework for biodiversity conservation is possible only by changing strategy. 

The meeting saw quite a few firsts. For one, the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) was set down.

This is the first time that a separate fund has been created under GEF. This fund can accept donations from all sources — private, philanthropy and governments — unlike GEF, which was hamstrung because it could avail only Official Development Assistance. 

The second important change in this Assembly was the decision to provide funds directly to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) in the implementation of GBF. As much as 20 per cent of the funds with the GBFF would be made available for activities carried out by IPLCs. 

This is important considering that IPLCs manage at least 43.5 million square kilometre (32 per cent of global land) in 87 countries but less than 1 per cent of funding for climate and biodiversity protection actually reaches them. 

This inclusion is important also because IPLCs occupy the very land that countries are trying to protect. Countries do not have land available for fortress protection, which has been in favour till date. 

Such measures have a special name too and are called Other Effective Conservation Measures and these would be used to protect indigenous and traditional territories along with private land. 

IPLCs are some of the world’s best forest protectors, and the climate, biodiversity,and sustainable development benefits of them managing the forests and biodiverse areas are massive and extremely cost-efficient. 

The third change is that just like funds for the indigenous-led initiatives to protect and conserve biodiversity, Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries would also receive special treatment under the GBFF and they will receive more than a third of the fund’s resources.

GBFF will gather additional funds over and above those earmarked for biodiversity under GEF’s eighth replenishment plan. GEF8 has a total of $1.4 billion available for action on three major environmental issues: Climate, biodiversity and pollution till 2026. 

This amount is likely to reach $10.5 billion as GEF plans to generate another $9.1 billion in co-financing from other sources. Biodiversity is set to receive the maximum amount — 47 per cent — of GEF8 funds. 

The systems to help IPLCs protect their biodiversity will be set over the next year. It is now up to the member government to set up a robust system that prevents any further exploitation of the community in the name of biodiversity conservation. 

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