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This Week in Biodiversity: Looking Ahead

As the summer nears its end, our news roundup finds the biodiversity markets looking ahead. With the deadline for Nagoya ratification set for this time next summer and an end to the recession (hopefully) in sight, governments and market participants are laying the groundwork for things to really start to get moving in the near future.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Mitigation Mail newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of biodiversity automatically in your inbox here.

05 August 2011 | Last month, practitioners, policy-makers, and entrepreneurs in ecosystem services markets from all across the United States convened in Madison, Wisconsin for the fourth annual Ecosystem Markets Conference. With powerpoint presentations officially banned from the event, discussion was even livelier than usual. Full notes from the conference panels are available here.

The conference also saw the launch of EcosystemCommons.org, a new collaborative workspace for ecosystem services professionals to share science and practice. You can follow the link to register and keep the conversation moving.

As the summer nears its end, our news roundup finds the biodiversity markets looking ahead. With the deadline for Nagoya ratification set for this time next summer and an end to the recession (hopefully) in sight, governments and market participants are laying the groundwork for things to really start to get moving in the near future.   But until then, enjoy the summer and happy reading!
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at mitmail@ecosystemmarketplace.com.


News

Innovative Tool Provides Development Alternatives

 

No market works if you can’t measure the quantity and quality of goods and services being sold, and ecosystem markets offer a product that is notoriously difficult (and expensive) to measure. An in-depth look at the development of one decision-support tool, EcoMetrix, presents a snapshot of the fascinating and complex world of measuring and modeling ecosystem functions, and considers how such a tool would work in a corporate offset context.

 

Get the full story here.


Gearing up for Ecosystem Services Stacking: Are We Ready?

 

If a farmer plants a forested buffer along a stream, he or she reduces nutrients in the water and pulls carbon from the air. Traditionally, however, the farmer would only be allowed to earn one ecosystem service payment for his action. Leading programs are beginning to develop policy and pilots around “stacking” or combining ecosystem service payments or credits.

In theory, stacking payments could provide multiple benefits. But it’s not clear how well these benefits can be captured in practice. Stacking also presents new concerns. Will stacking mean scarce conservation dollars conserve fewer acres or less effective conservation per dollar? Will stacking allow previous conservation (i.e. conservation easement) to be sold a second time (double dipping) without the first buyer knowing? These and other concerns are clamoring to be answered.

 

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.
Read a new working paper, “Stacking Ecosystem Services Payments: Risks and Solutions” by David Cooley and Lydia Olander of Duke University


Mitigation News

A Cool Billion for Biodiversity in Australia

 

The Australian government has announced a new fund for biodiversity to address climate-change related threats. AUD $946 million is allocated over the next six years for a range of projects to restore and maintain priority ecosystems. The fund will also focus on projects with strong potential for both biodiversity protection and carbon storage.

 

Read the press release from the Australian Prime Minister’s office.


Colombia Lays Out a National Bioprospecting Policy

 

Colombia recently approved a new policy aimed at supporting sustainable development of its bioprospecting sector. Under the new plan, Colombia, which is home to ten percent of the world’s biodiversity, will map out its biodiversity resources and establish a national bioprospecting company to explore commercial opportunities, such as pharmaceutical products. The policy has been welcomed in many quarters, though concerns remain about benefit-sharing with local and indigenous communities, as well as continuing bureaucratic obstacles to bioprospecting.

 

Learn more here.


Psst…Your Biodiversity Risk is Showing

 

Pharmaceutical companies around the world are overlooking their risk exposure from global biodiversity loss, according to a new study by KPMG and the Natural Value Initiative. “Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Risk and Opportunity Analysis within the Pharmaceutical Sector” takes a look at ten big pharma firms around the world, their dependency on biodiversity resources, and their value-chain impacts on those same resources. While most of the companies were aware of biodiversity risks, risk assessment by and large didn’t cover the full supply chain, the study found.

 

Read more and download the report here.


Malaysian Government Jumps into the Sustainable Palm Oil Certification Game

 

In response to public scrutiny of the deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction wreaked by the palm oil industry, Malaysian Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok has announced plans to develop a palm oil certification scheme requring palm oil plantations to produce sustainably. The certification will be similar to Indonesia’s own forthcoming certification, due out next year. Both national schemes will be mandatory. A voluntary certification program, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), has come down hard recently on big palm oil producers; Dompok accused the RSPO of “changing its goal posts,” spurring the Malaysian government to come up with its own certification program.

 

Read more here.


Focus on Protected Areas Won’t Save Biodiversity, A New Study Says

 

A new study in the Marine Ecology Progress Series journal has some bleak news. Researchers found that to halt biodiversity loss by 2050, we’ll need another 26 planet Earths, and that even the ambitious Nagoya targets will be insufficient to turn around our current steep declines in biodiversity. Financing for biodiversity is also likely to fall far short: the study notes that US $24 billion is needed to manage our protected areas, but only $6 billion is currently being spent. The authors suggest that protected areas alone won’t be enough, presenting a stark choice between biodiversity collapse and “[getting] serious about addressing the growth in size and consumption rate of our global population.”

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Learn more here.


Investing in Nature for Economic Growth

 

A new article co-authored by Janet Ranganathan of the World Resources Institute and Amanda DeSantis, DuPont ’s Leader of Sustainability Initiatives, tracks growing awareness of natural capital in the business sector. It’s time, they say, to “move beyond a narrow mindset of protecting nature from economic development to focus on how to invest in nature for development.” A raft of new tools are available to guide companies in their own corporate ecosystem service reviews and prepare for both market opportunities and future regulation, the authors note, before offering their own predictions as to what the future holds for the nature-economy nexus.

 

Read more at Environmental Leader.


Canadian Farmers Wouldn’t Mind Some Compensation for their Conservation

 

Compared to other developed countries, Canada makes little use of market-based mechanisms in its environmental policy. That may change soon. A growing number of agricultural producers are calling for policies that incentivize good stewardship and support ecosystem services on agricultural land. “Society is not seeing the actual full results that come from the environmental improvement that farmers are doing,” said one farmer from southwestern Ontario. Farmers say that they want to support healthy ecosystems on their land, but providing public goods like biodiversity and clean water isn’t cheap. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture plans to push the issue in the fall provincial election, though with tight budgets new spending may be a hard sell.

 

Get the story at the The Globe and Mail.


Workshop Brings Nagoya to West Africa

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) wrapped up a workshop last month in Dakar on biodiversity finance in West Africa. The workshop explored financing options for implementing the Nagoya protocol in the region. Participants discussed estimated funding and capacity-building needs, and reviewed available sources of biodiversity finance, including market-based mechanisms like biodiversity offsets, as well as more traditional government and multilateral funding options. The workshop was part of a series of regionally-focused meetings convened by the GEF and CBD, planning for implementation of the Nagoya compact around the world.

Read a press release here.
Learn more about the regional workshops here.


Call for PES Project Proposals in Latin America

 

Rare Conservation, a USA-based NGO focused on biodiversity conservation, has put out a request for proposals for PES (payments for ecosystem services) projects in Latin America that provide biodiversity and watershed benefits. Letters of interest and applications for projects establishing “Water Reciprocal Agreements” (“Arreglos Recí­procos por Agua”) between upstream and downstream users are requested by the end of August. Rare will provide technical assistance, social marketing and community mobilization tools and support.

 

Learn more here (page is in Spanish).


US MITIGATION NEWS

 

Obama’s Summer Reading: A National Ecosystem Services Policy Blueprint

 

“Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy,” a new report from President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, reviews the state of knowledge on the United States’ natural capital and what a national ecosystem services policy might look like. The working group calls for a full national inventory of US ecosystems conditions and trends as well as ramping up agencies’ use of ecosystem service valuation tools in decision-making. Interestingly, the report also recommends that the US assume greater leadership in developing the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN body tasked with serving as an objective scientific authority on biodiversity and ecosystem services issues. This might bode well for US participation in the Convention on Biological Diversity, which the country has never ratified.

 

Download the report here.


Unlocking Private Capital in Wetland Mitigation

 

Two US-based firms, Restore Capital and 3Sisters Sustainable Investments, recently completed a notable new type of loan to a wetland mitigation banker, GreenVest LLC. The private capital loan listed GreenVest’s wetland credits as collateral and repayment source for the loan, an innovation that could usher in a new wave of private financing for environmental restoration work. “Our investors are quite excited. We strongly believe using private investment capital and market solutions is key to solving some of most complex and difficult issues such as the need to restore our domestic environment,” the managing director of 3Sisters Sustainable Investments, Ben Bingham, remarked.

 

Read more here.


In Washington State, the Public Sector Picks up the Wetland Banking Slack

 

The US mitigation banking hasn’t avoided the economy-wide slump, dependent as it is on real-estate and other development projects to generate demand for credits. But in Clark County, Washington, public officials are taking advantage of the downtime to line up some big new projects including a 113-acre site near Amboy and another 60-acre site in Battle Ground. “Coming out of the recession, the public sector is the one doing the development right now,” says Bart Phillips of the Columbia River Economic Development Council. Wetland credits are expected to sell for about $150,000 an acre in the area.

 

Read more from the Columbian.


EVENTS

 

Earth Stewardship: Preserving and enhancing the earth’s life-support systems

This conference brings together those practicing stewardship across all sectors to share ideas and innovations. 7-12 August. Austin, Texas.

Read more about the conference here.

13th BIOECON Annual Conference

More information forthcoming. 11-13 September. Geneva, Switzerland.

Read more here.

Business and Biodiversity: The Next Sustainability Challenge

There is a growing concern in business about biodiversity loss and change and about the risks and opportunities biodiversity entails for the bottom line. This roundtable will present and discuss the implications of biodiversity issues for the business world. The purpose is also to identify critical trade-offs for society and business, and discover new ways of being smart in front of systemic interdependences. 23 September. INSEAD, Fontainebleau Campus, France.

Read more here.

 

Ecosystem Services: Integrating Science and Practice 4th International ESP Conference

This conference aims to provide a continuous platform for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to exchange information and ideas about new developments and pressing issues on the Science and Practice of Ecosystem Services (and to strengthen the partnership). 4-7 October. Wageningen, Gelderland, Netherlands.

Read more here.

CBD COP11

The 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held from 8-19 October. The High Level Segment will be held from 17-19 October 2012. The provisional agenda includes consideration of: the status of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization; implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; issues related to financial resources and the financial mechanism; and more. 8-19 October, Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), India.

Read more about the meeting here.

UNEP-FI Global Roundtable “The Tipping Point: Sustained Stability in the Next Economy”

UNEP FI’s 2011 Global Roundtable is the perfect opportunity to cast a spotlight on what the sustainable development agenda means for the world’s finance, investment and insurance sectors. 19-20 October 2011. Washington, DC.

Read more here.

SAC-SEPA Biennial conference: Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions

This conference will seek to present not only the best possible scientific understanding of the complexities associated with the delivery of multiple ecosystem services but also provide a forum to raise and discuss what still needs to be done to have an ecosystem approach recognised and supported by land managers, researchers and policy makers. 3-4 April 2012. Edinburgh, Scotland.

Read more about the conference here.

 


JOB OPENINGS

Environmental Defense Fund, Fisheries Policy Specialist (Pacific Region)

EDF’s Oceans Program aims to promote and implement sustainable fishery management for the benefit of the resource, fishermen, and fishing communities. EDF currently seeks a Fisheries Policy Specialist to advance these goals in the Pacific Region. Specifically, the successful candidate will be responsible for ensuring the successful design and implementation of the West Coast groundfish trawl rationalization program.

Click here for details.

 

The Natural Capital Project, Lead Ecosystem Services Modeler

We are a partnership among Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund developing tools to model and map the distribution of biodiversity and the flow of multiple ecosystem services across land- and seascapes. We seek a creative and talented ecologist or economist with strong leadership and communication skills to advance the development, testing and application of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem service models.

Click here for details.

 

Fauna and Flora International, [Multiple Positions]

Fauna & Flora International’s work spans across the globe, with over 100 projects in nearly 40 countries, mostly in the developing world. We proudly stand up for biodiversity and aim to show just how relevant it is to all of those who share the planet. We currently have seven job vacancies and one consultancy opportunity.

Click here for details.

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