Conserving biological diversity

Biological diversity and the ecosystem services it provides are vital for the survival of the human race and life on earth. These services secure our food supplies, regulate water resources and give us clean air to breathe. Nature helps us to reduce climate change and protects us from natural disasters such as flooding and landslides. Biological diversity is also the basis for our health and wellbeing. Intact ecosystems not only have healing and recuperative properties: they are also a basic requirement for containing the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 by offering habitats and sanctuaries, and act as natural ‘crash barriers’ between humans and animals, so as to minimise the transmission of pathogenic organisms.

The conservation of biological diversity must therefore be a top priority for humankind. The conservation of nature and wildlife is an integral part of climate action. At the international level, the German Government is working with other nations on solutions to this critical challenge, and is also a co-signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Agenda 2030, with its 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the Strategic Plan 2011–2020 and its specific targets for action - the 20 ‘Aichi Biodiversity Targets’, the CBD signatory states have embarked on an integrated, comprehensive and ambitious programme. Published in May 2019, the global report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on the state of biological diversity and ecosystem services makes it very clear that greater levels of commitment and implementation are needed in order to counter losses in biodiversity. To achieve this, nations have come together to develop a new post-2020 framework for the conservation of biodiversity, which will be adopted at the next CBD conference of the Parties (COP).

International Climate Initiative (IKI) as a funding instrument for biodiversity conservation

International Climate Initiative (IKI) is an important element of the German contribution to the international financing of climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. Since 2012, the conservation of biodiversity has been a separate funding area within IKI. Biodiversity is more vital in other funding areas than just as a cross-cutting issue, and this is reflected in many of the projects in these areas, that are also contributing to conservation efforts.

By providing investments, advice to governments, technology transfer and research partnerships, IKI projects improve the abilities of both governments and civil society to implement the CBD in partner countries. A particular focus for this support is the drafting and implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs). In this work, knowledge sharing as well as raising awareness and the participation of key actors often play a part in the effective and sustainable/long-term conservation of biological diversity.

Other focal points for the funding area include the conservation and expansion of protected areas, the sustainable use of ecosystems, and reductions to the degradation, fragmentation and valuation of ecosystems. The concept of ecosystem-based adaptation to the impacts of climate change as well as the principles behind sustainable methods of production, biodiversity-friendly agriculture and sustainable fishing make up some other important thematic areas. Urban biodiversity and the interactions between city and countryside and their mutual interdependencies, is also becoming increasingly significant.

Since the formation of IKI in 2008, around 300 biodiversity projects have been financed, amounting to a total funding volume of over 1.2 billion euros.

Valuation and mobilisation of financial resources for biodiversity conservation

Financing biodiversity conservation is one of the main planks of CBD implementation and will also be a key agenda item for the 15th COP on the post-2020 framework. Annually, there is a shortfall of up to 440 billion US dollars for the conservation of biodiversity, in contrast to the 500 billion US dollars that is put into investments that damage biodiversity.

Although our prosperity and a huge number of our economic activities depend directly or indirectly on biodiversity and its ecosystems, their value is currently unappreciated and inappropriately accounted for by economic or political decision-making. Above all, the services that nature provides to us appear limitless and seemingly ‘free of charge’ (at least to date).

IKI uses a broad and varied spectrum of approaches to help its partner countries valuate and mobilise resources for the conservation of diversity: these approaches include the marketing of products that are biodiversity-friendly, the integration of biodiversity into the private and financial sectors as well as the promotion of ecotourism.

Since 2012, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), has partnered with the European Commission, the region of Flanders, Norway and Switzerland to support the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). BIOFIN is a global partnership that is headed by UNDP and is currently active in over 35 countries. The goal of the initiative is to improve the general conditions for biodiversity financing in its partner countries. Most nations do not have access to reliable figures about the actual cost of implementing their biodiversity strategies or are also unaware of the sources from which they might procure such funding and of how to then implement their strategies. BIOFIN aims to provide partner countries with support for closing these gaps. In a second phase, financing solutions are then developed and implemented.

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Protected areas and ecosystem services

In their programme of work on protected areas, the 195 signatory parties to the CBD set themselves the goal of placing at least 17 percent of the total area of land and inland waters under protection, as well as 10 percent of their coastal and maritime areas by 2020. Current efforts being worked on as part of drafting the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework are calling for comprehensive land-use planning for more than 50 percent of the earth’s surface. The aim here is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems and ensure their sustainable management, so as to achieve a net increase in terms of the area, connectivity and integrity of natural ecosystems by 2030. Adaptation measures are also to be implemented for future land and sea use changes as well as the landscape approach. These approaches ensure that conflicting land use interests and land use demands are balanced out in order to account for human wellbeing and the environment in equal measure. In particular, this affects those regions that exhibit a high level of biological diversity and which provide important ecosystem services.

IKI projects help their partners to establish, expand and consolidate protected areas, and ensure their effective management, while also restoring degraded habitats. One important aspect here is the involvement of local and indigenous communities, so that protective measures can be designed as participative and sustainable solutions. IKI projects work with these communities to develop strategies for the protection and sustainable use of the ecosystems and biological resources that provide them with their livelihoods. This work also focusses on making use of local and traditional knowledge, and ensuring the continued application of past good practice. In terms of IKI contributions and targets, the importance of enlarging the area protected and ensuring better ecosystem networking is matched by a need to increase the quality of this protection and maintain it over the long term.

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Sustainable agriculture and pollinator protection

Sustainable agriculture is a basic precondition for safeguarding global food security. Accordingly, IKI projects support approaches that have the double aim of conserving biological diversity while securing resilient and intact ecosystems. This work includes financing agroforestry systems such as the cultivation of coffee and cocoa, for example, which are more sustainable in ecological terms than monocultures, require less use (or none) of chemical pesticides and also offer communities a wide range of benefits. In addition, IKI is also supporting measures to ensure the adaptability of the agricultural sector and its workers to ensure their livelihoods are safeguarded over the long term. These kinds of synergies between biodiversity, climate action and climate adaptation make up an important part of preserving ecosystem services.

Insects are of existential importance for many agricultural products. Without their help as pollinators, neither fruit nor vegetables would grow. Pollinators also play a leading role in their ecosystems and are vital for biodiversity, adaptation to the impacts of climate change and a wide range of ecosystem services. Unfortunately due to human activities such as the destruction of habitats and unsustainable agricultural practice, pollinator diversity is declining at a fast rate. Measures that promote sustainable methods of production and highlight the value of pollinators and insects for relevant sectors provide long-term protection for these species and are therefore important IKI topics.

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Biodiversity in the context of pandemics

Functional ecosystems form an important foundation for human health. Among other things, nature provides us with clean water, healthy food and medicinal products. Well-functioning ecosystems depend in turn on their species diversity, as only an ecological equilibrium can guarantee the stability and capabilities of this ecosystem.

A continual loss of habitats as a result of land use changes and unsustainable practice, unfortunately leads to the loss of sanctuaries and natural biotopes for wild animals. As a result, these animals are forced into territories occupied by humans, causing increased contact between humans and animals, with an increasing risk of disease transmission.

To reduce the risk of pandemics like Covid-19, greater effort is required both at a national and global level, coupled with greater awareness of the interrelationships between biodiversity and human health and a greater priority for conservation as a matter of public policy. The conservation of ecosystems and their services must become systematically integrated into land use and development planning, so as to reduce points of contact between humans and wild animals. Increasing awareness over the long term for relevant stakeholder in government, international cooperation, healthcare and agriculture is needed, to make the interrelationships between human wellbeing, conservation and the preservation of natural habitats a conscious part of our decision-making about the natural world.

Since its formation, IKI has been working to counter the degradation and fragmentation of ecosystems, and to highlight the links between the protection and sustainable use of natural resources and human prosperity. IKI projects help to foster ecosystem integrity while networking biotopes and habitats, so that these areas can continue to function as sanctuaries for wild animals. Thanks to the participative approaches that are promoted, collaborations with local populations have also made a significant contribution to combating poaching in many projects. IKI projects have also raised awareness about the environment in partner countries, and shared know-how about the interrelationships between ecosystem services and preserving human livelihoods. The ‘one health’ approach is now an increasingly important IKI topic. This approach acknowledges the link between biodiversity and climate change, and is responding to new global challenges with an integrated approach to promote healthy ecosystems and healthy people.Selected projects:

Selected projects:

Marine and coastal biodiversity and coastal protection

Our prosperity depends to a large extent also on services provided by the oceans and their ecosystems. In global terms, the coastal ecosystems in the tropics play a hugely important role: from coral reefs to seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, these ecosystems support a wealth of plant and animal species. Their biological diversity contribute significantly to global food security, the climate and to natural coastal protection systems. Humankind is the primary cause of the continual decline of coastal ecosystems as well as for pollution and reduction of water quality.

To better protect our oceans and coastlines in the future, IKI projects work at many levels, from local communities to international policymaking, to achieve the sustainable management and resource-friendly usage of marine regions, to support the restoration of natural ecosystems and to prioritise the preservation of livelihoods for coastal communities. Coastal protection is one of the cross-cutting issue for many IKI funding areas. Measures for ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) also target the conservation and restoration of mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs that, as natural carbon sinks, also make an important contribution to the mitigation of greenhouse gases. Documenting and replicating positive solution approaches while learning from local and traditional knowledge are other important aspects of this work.

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