This Week In Biodiversity: Show Me The Money

A new study published in Science estimates a global cost of $80 billion a year to halt biodiversity loss and protect key conservation areas. Meanwhile, the 11th COP to the Convention of Biological Diversity is taking place in Hyderabad, India with biodiversity finance at its center. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Nathaniel Carroll weighs in on the economic value of biodiversity.

A new study published in Science estimates a global cost of $80 billion a year to halt biodiversity loss and protect key conservation areas. Meanwhile, the 11th COP to the Convention of Biological Diversity is taking place in Hyderabad, India with biodiversity finance at its center. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Nathaniel Carroll weighs in on the economic value of biodiversity.

This article was originally published in the Mitigation Mail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

18 October 2012
| The 11th Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of Parties is underway in Hyderabad, India, and biodiversity financing (or the lack thereof) is right at the center of the discussion. Amid frustrations from some quarters that no formal financing mechanism has been created yet, CBD executive secretary Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias made his case for investment: “Expenditures on biodiversity should not be seen as costs,” said Dias. “They should be seen as investments that will pay back with significant environmental, social and economic benefits for all our societies.”

One new study published in Science last week effectively handed the world a bill for halting biodiversity loss. The study’s authors estimate that $80 billion a year will be needed to bring threatened species back from the brink of extinction and effectively protect key conservation areas. Put in perspective, that’s not much, says author Donal McCarthy, of BirdLife International. “The total required is less than 20 percent of annual global consumer spending on soft drinks.”

The trick is translating economic studies into investment, says Ecosystem Marketplace’s own Nathaniel Carroll in an AFP interview. “Everyone should be paying for their impacts on, use of, and reliance on biodiversity and its services, if they want it to continue to be available.”

It hasn’t been all bad news – a report launched at the meeting announced that Marine Protected Areas have increased ten-fold in the last ten years, meaning that the world may still be on track to hit its Aichi target of 10% protected by 2020 (currently MPAs comprise 2.3% of world ocean areas). And India became the first country to directly contribute to reaching the Aichi Targets with a $50 million pledge.

Still, the clock is ticking while progress on the twenty Aichi Targets set at the last CBD meeting in 2010 continues to be unsteady and funding remains scarce. As Francis Vorhies put it in a post at Forbes, “Fine targets indeed, but where is the money going to come from?”


—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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EM Exclusives

Welcome To The UN’s Secret Climate Adaptation Summit


COP 11 in Hyderabad is probably the biggest climate adaptation conference you have never heard of. Representatives from 192+ countries have travelled to India, drawing a crowd of 14,000 delegates to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) bi-annual summit. But aside from a solitary New York Times journalist who arrived on Monday, media coverage outside India is fairly low-key.


This is a pity, as the subjects up for discussion are fascinating, and directly relevant to the climate debate. In the past week geo-engineering, biofuels, REDD+, coastal protection strategies and increased environmental finance commitments have all been on the agenda. No one talks about climate change. They don’t need to. It’s not the elephant in the room. It is the room.


Keep reading.

Climate Change, Decoded


Climate change attacks water supplies and agriculture while making life easier for opportunistic bugs and vermin that spread disease. It attacks, in other words, the very foundation of our economy, yet the cost of dealing with it, has gotten short shrift in the media – largely because the science is always complex and often impenetrable. That’s why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) distilled all known research on the impact of climate-change into a 600-page document called Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX).


Now, to make the material more digestible, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has broken the SREX down into 40-page summaries on water, agriculture, health, and ecosystems in general, as well as regionally for Asia, Africa, Latin American, and Caribbean regions. One summary, Managing Climate Extremes and Disasters for Ecosystems, examines the impact of climate change on the planet’s living ecosystems.


Learn more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

The Neuroscience Of Climate-Change Apathy (And How To Fix It)


Climate risk has been a source of active discussion for 25 years, yet clear policy to address the climate change problem is not yet in place. It is easy to attribute this failure to economic externalities, too-high discount rates, or campaign financing and political influence. But research over the last 20 years has also opened a growing window of investigation into the “how” of human decision-making. When it comes to perceiving and responding to complicated risks, it is increasingly clear that the human brain can operate to the detriment of what we would normally consider rational outcomes.


One explanation of this is that human society, and the nature of the problems we are trying to address, has evolved more quickly than the physical capacity of our brains to understand and respond to developing risks. As Daniel Kahneman put it in his 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow, humans suffer from the ‘what you see is all there is’ (WYSIATI) phenomenon.


Keep reading here.

Mitigation News



Rio Tinto Pilot on Track for Net Positive Impact


In 2010, mining giant Rio Tinto and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that they were joining forces to develop and evaluate management actions that could deliver a net positive impact (NPI) on biodiversity from Rio Tinto’s operations. Now the first report from that collaboration is available. Forecasting the path towards a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity for Rio Tinto QMM describes approaches to NPI accounting and results seen to date.


At the pilot site, an ilemenite mine in Madagascar, Rio Tinto looks to be on track to achieve NPI by the mine’s expected closing date in 2065 if it can successfully carry out its planned mitigation portfolio, a mix of offsets, restoration projects, and avoidance zones. Outcomes will depend on successful conservation interventions for several species currently on a path toward net negative impacts. The authors also note the need to consider and plan for climate change effects. Impacts were calculated using two metrics – ‘Quality Hectares’ to measure forest habitats and ‘Units of Global Distribution’ to track impacts on high priority species.


Learn more and read the report.

New Wetland Carbon Standard Gets the Nod


The tides may be turning for wetland restoration and conservation financing: the first-ever wetland carbon crediting methodology was approved under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) earlier this month. The new project category was developed by a working group led by Restore America’s Estuaries, and is applicable to a variety of wetland types incuding mangroves and seagrasses, salt marshes, freshwater tidal coastal wetlands, floodplains, and peatlands. “We hope that by adopting wetlands under the VCS Standard, wetland conservation and restoration activities will be stimulated…We are already receiving interest in potential new projects from all over the world, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, South America, Africa, and the United States,” said Stephen Crooks, Climate Change Services Director at consulting group ESA PWA. Wetlands have been shown to sequester so-called ‘blue carbon’ at a rate three to five times greater than temperate forests.


Read more at the Blue Carbon Blog.
Read about the new project category at VCS.

You Know You’ve Hit the Big Time When You Get Your Own Portal

For all things blue carbon, cruise on over to the new Blue Carbon Portal – an information platform from UNEP GRID-Arendal and Blue Climate Solutions. The Portal features news, resources, a director and events calendar, and – our favorite – a global map inventory of blue carbon projects.

Visit the Blue Carbon Portal.

Puma’s EP&L Approach Gets Down to Details


Sportswear brand Puma made headlines last year when it released results from its first ever environmental profit and loss (EP&L) statement tracking its environmental impacts in economic terms. One key finding was that a majority of the company’s impacts are associated with the raw materials used. Now Puma has taken the EP&L process to the product level, looking at the footprint of four of its offerings: an eco-friendly biodegradable t-shirt and pair of sneakers, and their more traditionally made counterparts. The ‘green’ products outperformed the conventional ones markedly: the environmental cost of the eco-sneakers was £2.47, compared with £3.60 for the suede versions and the eco-friendly t-shirt bested its counterpart £1.98 to £2.87. Puma also says about a dozen other companies will join it in implementing environmental EP&L methods in the next year.


But it’s not all good news; the company also found that in terms of water impacts the ‘green’ shirt actually performed worse, because of the cotton’s provenance in a water-stressed region of China. Even this is a teachable moment, says Richard Mattison, CEO of consulting frim Trucost, who worked on the EP&L statement. Puma can switch to a less water-strapped province in China or look harder at use at the local level. “It’s about making sourcing strategy very specific.”


Read on at Environmental Leader.
Learn more about Puma’s water footprint in China.



UNDP Reorients Toward Aichi


Last week the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released its Biodiversity and Ecosystems Global Framework 2012-2020, which repositions UNDP to help achieve the Aichi Targets. The framework sets out three new workstreams: mainstreaming biodiversity protection into development goals, targeting biodiversity in the management and financing of protected areas, and integrating climate change adaptation into UNDP’s ecosystem management. UNDP’s biodiversity portfolio currently includes 512 projects across 146 countries drawing $1.5 billion in direct GEF funding and $3.5 billion in co-financing.


Learn more.

Birdlife Calls Out the EU on Biodiversity Progress


Birdlife International also has its eye on 2020: it’s just published an assessment of the European Union’s progress in achieving its own goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2020. On the Road to Recovery? takes a look at each of the six EU Biodiversity Strategy targets, focusing in particular on the need to get the EU budget in order – meaning reforming harmful subsidies for agriculture and forestry, and ramping up biodiversity financing. Birdlife also calls for full implementation of EU nature legislation at national levels: “Targets and strategies are only as good as the action actually taken,” the report cautions.


Download an executive summary (pdf).
Read the full report (pdf).

Australia’s New Offset Policy Favors a Direct Approach

Australia’s updated Environmental Offsets Policy, which went into effect this month, heavily favors direct offsets over other compensatory measures. The new policy, part of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and replacing a 2007 draft, requires that at least 90 percent of offset requirements be direct. The new policy also allows for ‘advanced offsets’ – credits created prior to impacts – but cautions that securing advance offsets will have no bearing on a project’s being approved under the EPBC Act. Offsets developed in response to state and territorial-level policies can still count toward the national policy.

Learn more.

Like the Former Governator, Banking Will Be Back

Mitigation and conservation bankers in California likely breathed a sign of relief when Senate Bill No. 1148 was signed into law late last month. SB 1148 allows the state Department of Fish and Game (DFG), which is responsible for approving banks under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Wetlands Mitigation Bank Act of 1993, to adjust fees to “cover the reasonable costs of the department” for application review, approval, and monitoring of established banks. Fees will go into a dedicated account in the Fish and Game Preservation Fund. Funds would also support a bank database. Earlier this year, DFG had to suspend review of applications due to budgetary constraints.

Read the bill text here.



Director of Habitat Markets


Environmental Defense Fund – San Francisco CA, USA

EDF is seeking a visionary leader to develop and implement its strategy for increasing habitat conservation and restoration through performance and incentive-based approaches. The Director, Habitat Markets will guide EDF’s work on both traditional mitigation banking systems as well as more novel recovery credit trading systems such as those recently piloted at Fort Hood in Texas. The Director will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the program, managing a 6-person team and a $2 million budget. This position will also be responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with EDF’s key government, industry, and NGO partners. The successful candidate will have deep experience in building programs to implement transformative conservation initiatives.


Learn more.

Post-Doctoral Associate, Ecosystem Services


The Nature Conservancy – Colorado or Minnesota, USA

In 2011, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) embarked on a five-year, $10M collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) to help companies recognize, value and incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem services into global business goals, decisions and strategies. A central focus of the TNC-Dow Collaboration is initiatives at three pilot sites to implement and refine models that support corporate decision-making related to the value and resources that nature provides to business. The Post-Doctoral Associate will support research at the second pilot site in Brazil, which aims to develop a methodology and tools to guide business and land use decisions to maximize agricultural (sugar cane) production and biodiversity and ecosystem services through forest restoration. Deadline for application is October 28, 2012.


Learn more.



Ecological & Environmental Mitigation Banking Seminar


This seminar will inform attorneys, regulatory staff, developers and project manager in the public and private sectors of both existing and emerging credit banking tools and concepts under programs administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, EPA, DOE and other agencies. Join Program Co-Chairs Tom Lindley and Steven L. Pfeiffer, partners with Perkins Coie LLP. 19 October 19 2012. Seattle, WA, USA.


Learn more.

Webinar: Evaluating Conservation and Management Efforts through an Eco-Audit


Interested in an objective and science-based way to analyze conservation and management efforts? The Healthy Reefs Initiative, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute and local partners, recently developed and implemented a multinational Eco-Audit of the Mesoamerican Reef Countries. The Eco-Audit used standardized management indicators, such as fisheries management and coastal zone management; had input from a variety of NGOs, governmental agencies, and the private sector; utilized workshops to rank indicators; and was reviewed by an independent auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Eco-Audit establishes a baseline for the status of reef ecosystem management efforts and should catalyze faster, more effective management responses and increase accountability within the public and private sectors and among NGOs. This presentation will cover the Eco-Audit process used by the team and results from the Mesoamerican Reef Countries Eco-Audit. 13 November 2012. Online.


Register here.

Strategic Planning Approaches to Improve Biodiversity Conservation


Balancing biodiversity conservation outcomes with social and economic priorities is a complex and challenging task. Strategic Planning Approaches to Improve Biodiversity Conservation will bring together the key players currently developing strategic and landscape scale approaches to protect biodiversity and streamline development assessments to support urban and regional growth. 14-15 November 2012. Sydney, Australia.


Learn more.

IV International Conference on Payments for Ecosystem Services


Due to its strategic importance in the development of initiatives and public policies related to PES in the region and the country, the state of Sao Paulo was chosen to host the IV International Conference on Payments for Ecosystem Services. The central theme of the IV International Conference is “Impact assessment and socioeconomic and environmental monitoring.” The scientific program of the conference includes lectures, talks, thematic sessions (with time for oral presentations) and poster presentations based on five thematic areas: (i) institutional arrangements; (ii) impact monitoring; (iii) legal aspects; (iv) financing initiatives; and (v) mobilization of actors. 26-29 November 2012. Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Learn more.

ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012


ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012 is an international collaboration of three dynamic communities – A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), the Ecosystem Markets Conference, and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The conference will provide an open forum to share experiences and state-of-the-art methods, tools, and processes for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference will be to link science, practice, institutions and resource sustainable decision making by bringing together ecosystem services communities from around the United States and the globe. Regular Reduced Registration deadline is November 9, 2012. 10-12 December 2012. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.


Learn more.

East Coast Biodiversity Offsetting for Mining, Energy & Infrastructure


This conference will explore policy developments and emerging industry approaches for biodiversity offset delivery in Queensland and New South Wales. Mining, energy and infrastructure proponents are currently facing large and complex biodiversity offset requirements to successfully achieve project approvals and net positive impact on biodiversity. 12-13 Feburary 2013. Brisbane, Australia.


Learn more.

5th National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER)


Join us at NCER ’13 for four days of presentations in multiple program tracks, workshops, plenary sessions, poster sessions, field trips and coffee-house discussions dedicated to current topics in ecosystem restoration. We’ll explore the roles of policy, planning, science and management in establishing goals and performance expectations for achieving successful and sustainable ecosystem restoration. Abstract submission deadline is November 1, 2012. 29 July – 2 August, 2013. Greater Chicago, IL, USA.


Learn more.

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