UN biodiversity conference COP13: mainstreaming biodiversity for well-being

November 29, 2016

A view of Isla Contoy National Park, Quintana Roo.
A view of Isla Contoy National Park, Quintana Roo.

The 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) begins December 2nd, 2016 in Cancun, Mexico, under the theme of “mainstreaming biodiversity for well-being”.

The conference provides a critical opportunity for countries to address strategic actions to enhance implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and promote the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity targets. It will focus on mainstreaming biodiversity across relevant sectors, especially agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and tourism, to contribute to the sustainable development goals, climate action, food security and other human development goals.

The role of the GEF

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has been a financial mechanism for the CBD helping developing countries implement the convention since 1996. The GEF has invested more than US$3.5 billion to conserve biodiversity and to use it sustainably. This investment has leveraged over US$10 billion in additional funds, supporting 1,300 projects in more than 155 countries.

GEF funds have improved the management of more than 860 million ha of protected areas and parks around the world - an area larger than the size of Brazil – and have also helped countries sustainably use and manage biodiversity within more than 352 million ha of productive landscapes and seascapes.

Mainstreaming biodiversity at the GEF

Biodiversity mainstreaming is defined by the GEF as the process of embedding biodiversity considerations into policies, strategies and practices of key public and private actors that impact or rely on biodiversity, so that it is conserved and sustainably used both locally and globally. The GEF has embedded biodiversity mainstreaming into its programming for over more than a decade.

The GEF has focused primarily on the following activities (i) developing policy and regulatory frameworks that remove perverse subsidies and provide incentives for biodiversity-positive land and resource use that remains productive but that does not degrade biodiversity, (ii) spatial and land-use planning to ensure that land and resources are used appropriately to maximize production without undermining or degrading biodiversity; and (iii) improving and changing production practices to be more biodiversity-positive with a focus on sectors that have significant biodiversity impacts such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, and extractives.

Through technical capacity building and implementation of financial mechanisms (certification, payment for environmental services, or biodiversity offsets, among others) the GEF helps incentivize actors to change current practices that may be degrading biodiversity.  During GEF-6, the GEF introduced a new complementary area of investment in mainstreaming that supports the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services valuation into development and finance planning. 

Between 2004 and 2016 the GEF supported a total of 427 biodiversity mainstreaming programs and projects, totaling $2.7 billion and leveraging an additional $16.8 billion in co-financing. One example is the Project for Ecosystem Services (ProEcoServ) pilots, where the GEF invested $6.3 million in four pilot projects, leveraging additional contributions of $24 million from partners. ProEcoServ successfully mainstreamed ecosystem services into macroeconomic policy in Chile, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam, helping build a road map for implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

Going forward, biodiversity mainstreaming will remain an important part of the GEF’s biodiversity strategy. At COP 13, the GEF will host a side event on mainstreaming biodiversity in sustainable development, as well as events on illegal wildlife trade, synergies among the MEAs, and the global commons.

Visit our CBD COP 13 page for more information and side event schedule.