The side event, on Oct. 11, 2012, highlighted how incremental financial resources have been mobilized in India for biodiversity conservation, with particular focus on GEF finance. The event also highlighted some of the key GEF projects in India, including the Eco-development, marine and coastal, and agro-biodiversity projects.
The discussion was introduced by Dr. Gustavo Fonseca, Head, Natural Resources and facilitated by Yoko Watanabe, Program Manager & Senior Biodiversity Specialist of the GEF Secretariat.
Hem Pande, GEF Operational Focal Point and CBD Focal Point of India gave an Overview on Financing Biodiversity in India and GEF portfolio, followed by three case studies:
- By Pramod Krishnan, Program Officer, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – India, on the Ecodevelopment Project;
- By Dr Bhuwon Sathpait, Program Officer of Bioversity International on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Cultivated and Wild Tropical Fruit Diversity, and;
- By Mr. Ravi Sharma, Principal Officer, Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity on future Resource mobilization for Biodiversity in India.
In his introduction, Dr. Fonseca explained that Resource Mobilization is a key agenda of this COP, and that the discussion was centered on the need to mobilize financial resources required to enable developing countries to achieve the Aichi Targets at the national level. He said: "We all recognize the need to substantially increasing resources (financial, human and technical) from all sources, including innovative financial mechanisms, balanced with the effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. The GEF is the financial mechanism of the CBD and has been providing catalytic financing towards biodiversity conservation and sustainable use over the past two decades. GEF has provided approximately $3.1 billion in grants and leveraged about $9 billion in co-financing in support of more than 1000 biodiversity projects around the world.
Dr. Fonseca also said that the GEF has not only provided direct funding to related projects, but many of the projects have generated further resources through establishing innovative and sustainable financial systems, such as conservation trust funds, payment of ecosystem services, biodiversity offset, and others. Some projects have also conducted economic valuation of biodiversity, including economic analysis of protected areas and species. This analysis has helped establish recognition of the monetary value of ecosystem goods and services for communities and country as a whole. A greater understanding of the economic value of natural resources and economic goods and services has led to increased government budgets and other investment for conservation.
The 14 national-level biodiversity projects that the GEF has funded represent a diverse set of critical ecosystems in India, from ridge to reef.
The projects cover various successful interventions, including protected area management, mainstreaming biodiversity in production sectors, and one of the early Access and Benefit Sharing initiative.
The GEF has also provided catalytic funding for conservation initiatives in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalaya hotspots through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.