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Designing a global biodiversity financing mechanism


Global distributions of rewards, incentives, and their leverage, doi: 10.1111/conl.12670

In a recent article Georgina Mace et al. propose to aim higher to bend the curve of biodiversity loss. While I am convinced that this is not just needed for sustainable development but also feasible, I do think we need to innovate our (global) institutions to make such a change happen.

With the current IPCC Land report and the global IPBES assessment, it is clear that land use has to change. Nature Conservation and protected areas are cornerstone in any strategy to safeguard ecological life support and thus human thriving.

So, what if we paid nations for their conservation efforts? Gave them a financial reward for providing protected areas? This is the basic idea of the Brazilian Ecological Fiscal Transfer systems, that compensates municipalities for hosting protected areas. According to the empirical results so far (e.g. here, here, and here) this sets incentives for conservation that result in additional protected areas.

Therefore, we propose to upscale such an EFT mechanism to the global level and developed three different design options:

  1. Ecocentric: only protected area (PA) extent per country counts, the bigger the protected area the better
  2. Socio-ecological: protected area and Human Development Index count, to bring in some development justice
  3. Anthropocentric: population density is also taken into account, because people benefit locally from PA

We assess the designs by how well they perform in setting incentives with regard to policy gaps to reach Aichi target 11. Here, we find that the socio-ecological design sets the highest incentives where the policy gap is largest.

By this we hope to inspire some constructive science-policy dialogue about how we can devise institutions to make land use change happen and bend the curve of biodiversity loss.

The article has been published open access in Conservation Letters:

  • Droste, N., Farley, J., Ring, I., May, P.H., Ricketts, T.H. (2019) Designing a global mechanism for intergovernmental biodiversity financing. Conservation Letters. doi: 10.1111/conl.12670