This Week in Mitigation Mail: Looking Back at Nagoya

Nagoya dominated the headlines of the biodiversity world this past month.  Beyond the main negotiations, the conference highlighted a number of new reports and initiatives.  This week’s Mitigation Mail brings you the stories from the conference – as well as news from the wider world of biodiversity markets.

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 every month by clicking here.

9 November 2010 | This month’s news is dominated by the 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP10).     Ecosystem Marketplace provided coverage of the event – see article summaries and links below.

Need a primer on the CBD COP10? Check out our CBD Cheat Sheet.

The negotiations were colored by debate / stalling (depending on your point of view)… particularly in regards to an agreement for ‘access and benefits sharing’ (or ABS) to provide developing countries a share of the profits when products like pharmaceuticals are developed from that country’s biodiversity resources.

When time kept ticking away and it didn’t look like an agreement would be reached, the Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, made a Big Deal announcement. Japan pledged $2 billion towards a new ‘Life in Harmony’ initiative that would disburse funds to development countries over three years to help develop national biodiversity strategic action plans.

Ultimately, the COP ended (at 3am!) with an agreement on ABS (‘Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization’) as well as 2020 targets.   Something that did not make it past negotiations was text supportive of ‘innovative financial mechanisms,’ which got the ax in working group discussions (see more on this on the EKO-ECO blog).

If you’re a COP10 wonk, you may want to check out videos of from the Convention here, comprehensive coverage by International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and blog coverage from undercover COP, and Conservation International.

Have biodiversity news you want to share with the world? Like its cousins Climate-L and Forest-L, the new Biodiversity-L listserv has been launched by IISD as a way for practitioners to share info, job postings, etc. peer-to-peer.

Although you may just be getting over the jet-lag from travel to Nagoya, if you’re US-based you may want to check out the upcoming ACES Conference in New Mexico, from Dec. 6 -9.

The CBD COP10 was used as a world spotlight to launch many reports and initiatives. See below for summaries of these as well as news from the broader world of biodiversity markets.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].


Nagoya at the Halfway Mark: Mixed Messages on Financing

Ecosystem Marketplace provided running coverage and analysis of the Convention on Biological Diversity COP-10 meetings. At the halfway mark we noted the paralyzing effect of the North-South debate, with both sides holding up negotiations, and while innovative financial mechanisms, such as Payments for Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Offsets were discussed, no resolutions were adopted.

Read the article here

Nagoya Report Highlights Latin American Biodiversity Funding

A report released during the second week put forward a good analysis of the feasibility of implementing habitat banking schemes in Latin America. Put together by PriceWaterhouse Cooper and the United Nations Development Program, the report was mostly optimistic about the possibility of habitat banking schemes in the region, but opposition voiced by many Latin American nations seems to indicate that such a scheme is off the table for now, with a Bolivian delegate stating “our environment is not for sale.”

Read about the report here

A Green Development Mechanism for Biodiversity?

Another innovative financial mechanism floated at the Nagoya summit was the Green Development Mechanism (GDM). Like the it’s cousin from the Kyoto Protocol, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the GDM would lead to governments and private sector participants providing funding to biodiversity conservation efforts to offset their own impacts. Proponents point out that the CDM has been an effective tool for raising funds to implement carbon offsetting programs and that biodiversity conservation is in need of a similar tool, while critics say that the GDM would allow for the sidestepping of central governments in project development.

Read about the GDM here

Peeling Away the Mystery of UN Biodiversity Talks – One Layer at a Time

Don’t know what a “friend of the chair” does at a Conference of Parties summit? I’m not sure that many people do. So to help sort through the confusion of the CBD meetings, Becca Madsen and Matthew Cranford explained some of the jargon and the processes at the events and conferences.

Read the article here

Bridging the Biodiversity Finance Gap

It turns out that no one at the CBD COP10 meetings really knew how much money to ask for, and as Madsen and Cranford pointed out, it’s not easy to fill a budget gap when you’re not quite sure how large that gap is. There were estimates, such as Latin America’s gap of $317 – $700 million annually, and The Global Canopy Program’s Little Biodiversity Finance Book put global spending on biodiversity at $40 billion annually, but that figure is just a start. Meanwhile, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature was calling for $300 billion. However, it doesn’t seem likely that that figure will be realized unless new and innovative funding mechanisms are implemented. For a great rundown of ideas and examples, check out the Little Biodiversity Finance Book.

Read the article here
Read about the Little Biodiversity Finance Book here
Download the Little Biodiversity Finance Book here

New Book Successfully Argues for Protected Areas

A new book, Arguments for Protected Areas, by Sue Stolton and Nigel Dudley, makes a fresh case for the benefits and value of creating and maintaining protected areas. Those benefits extend beyond environmental conservation, providing increased well being to human populations as well. The book is timely and focuses on current issues, such as climate adaptation and mitigation, and provides a good overview of the policy instruments, measurement tools and capacity-building obstacles that exist around the creation and preservation of protected areas.

Read about the book here

Mitigation News

TEEB Comes to an End, Only Just Starting

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) comes to a close, having released their fifth report in October. Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature , synthesizes the past four reports and makes this the most accessible of the reports. It values natural capital at US$2-4.5 trillion annually, and Pavan Sukhdev, the study leader for project, hopes this final figure and the information laid out in the report will once and for all make the value of nature apparent to everyone from businesses, citizens, NGOs, and policy makers. Coverage of the report was extensive, and the timing of its release was intended to get the general public and Nagoya attendees on board with the ecosystem services program ahead of the COP10 CBD meetings.

Read more here
and here
and here

Green National Accounting – India First to Sign up

Announced recently at the CBD COP10 in Japan, the World Bank began a program to help nations value nature and include costs into their national accounts. Think of it as GDP+. The World Bank aims to coordinate about 10 country initiatives to set common measures of valuing ecosystems and their services. Results will be published in 2015. The economist and leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiviersity (TEEB) report, Pavan Sukhdev, said, ”Natural capital is a massive asset class, and developing nations’ biggest asset. For it to be missing from the balance sheet of the nation, or for failures to not be counted, does not make sense.” India has become the first country to commit to including its natural wealth in its financial measurements, taking into account plant, animal, water, and other natural capital indicators. The Indian Minister for Environment Forest, Jairam Ramesh, said the report ”aims to provide strong incentives for countries to ensure decisions are not solely based on short-term gains, but build foundations for sustainable and inclusive development

Read more here
And BBC coverage here

Reports Released by UNEP: The Greening of Finance and Property Investment

A new CEO Briefing by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) was released at the CBD COP10 last week entitled, Demystifying Materiality: Hardwiring Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into Finance. The document states that an increasing number of actors from banks to insurance companies and key financial institutions are starting to recognize the potentially large risks to investments that result from biodiversity and ecosystems loss. Such increasing awareness is a fundamental sea change towards greater recognition of the significant financial benefits that come from biodiversity and ecosystems. The report recommends a number of ways to hardwire biodiversity and ecosystem services into finance such as: adopting principles to embed ‘natural capital’ into finance, using credit rating agencies to evaluate biodiversity and ecosystem service risks, and partnering with existing initiatives such as the Natural Value Initiative and the Forest Footprint Disclosure project to build in-house capacity and better balance risks. Also released by the UNEP was a report on “Responsible Property Investing.” It provided results from a survey on Responsible Property Investing, and showcases strategies for property investing that takes into account environmental and social issues. The strategies are grouped into 10 elements, with case studies from around the world illustrating the elements.

Read the Finance report here
And the press release here
And read the Responsible Property Investing report here

Tohoku University Leads Biodiversity Offsets Study Group

A group based out of Tohoku University will be leading an exploration of biodiversity offsets and their use. The group consisting of 60 representatives from general contractors, megabanks, NGOs, universities, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Tokyo metropolitan government will “analyze overseas examples and examine the problems that might arise if the method is introduced in Japan and the potential impact on the economy and society.” The group is expected to deliver policy recommendations to the government by the summer of 2011.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) released a document in June of 2010 noting their wariness of the concept of ‘no net loss’ “At the moment, the introduction of the concept of no net loss and net positive impact will likely to be an excessive restriction to various public projects and industrial activities. Therefore, application of these concepts should be considered carefully.”

Read more here

OECD Report: Paying for Biodiversity: Enhancing the Cost-Effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services

Another report to hit the spotlight at the CBD COP10 is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) new report on Cost-Effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services. The report draws on more than 30 case studies to identify good practices in the design and implementation of PES programs. The key items for cost-effective PES include consideration of how international finance for biodiversity can be stimulated and utilized to complement existing local and national PES programs that focus on biodiversity. Emerging international voluntary initiatives that focus on both carbon and biodiversity are key aspects for cost-effective PES and finding ways to improve and scale up such markets.

Download the report here

Costa Rica to U.S: Let’s Make a Deal (Debt-for-Nature)

Costa Rica recently signed an agreement with the U.S. that would allow Costa Rica to reduce its debt owed to the United States by expanding protected areas and investing millions in conservation efforts. The Nature Conservancy also got in on the deal, donating US$4 million. This isn’t new for the U.S., they’ve signed similar deals with other Latin American nations since the introduction of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) in 1998, but the Costa Rican deal is the largest of its kind.

Read more here
and here

The Great Wall of Biodiversity

China announced an ambitious plan to curb biodiversity loss. Facing difficult challenges, such as rapid development and illegal wildlife trade, China said it was creating 35 priority conservation areas, covering 23% of the country. The plan hopes to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. Some critics have voiced their apprehension, given China’s habit of trading environmental health for development, although China’s move towards incorporating ecosystem service approaches to conservation might make the development-conservation equation more balanced.

Read about the plan here

Singapore Index Tracks City’s Biodiversity Score

As the world’s population goes from being largely rural to mostly urban, the sustainability of cities is becoming a greater concern. The Singapore index, formally endorsed at the COP10 Nagoya meetings, is designed to definitively measure urban conservation efforts and offers a “biodiversity score”. The small city-state is the perfect testing sight for the index, as its need to balance ecological sustainability and development are more pronounced than nations with cities separated by rural and undeveloped lands. It has so far been tested in 30 cities around the world (including Singapore), with more to adopt the index in the coming years.

Read about the index here
and here

Global Loss of Biodiversity Could be Halved if you Change Everything

A recent study by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, LEI of Wegeningen UR, and the University of British Columbia claims that a combination of different measures in various sectors could potentially halve the projected global loss of biodiversity up to 2050. How? In addition to expanding the global network of protected areas, the report points to structural changes in consumption and production efficiency. Biodiversity loss can be slowed with the reduction of expanding agricultural land and halting the overexploitation of terrestrial and marine environments. By confronting these issues across multiple sectors other issues can benefit as well including climate change mitigation, food security, and water quality.

Read more here

U.S Mitigation News

Fall Endangered Species Bulletin

The Fall issue of the Endangered Species Bulletin was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It focuses on voluntary conservation partnerships, including an article on conservation banking providing a nice case study of the Elsie Gridley Conservation Bank in California. The Gridley family said they benefited from California’s environmental laws that require habitat offsets and the availability of bank managers and regulatory officials to help mediate the process.


The newsletter also mentions a new pilot program called Habitat Credit Exchange Program for the endangered Utah prairie dog. The program is similar to conservation banking but instead of private buyers purchasing credits to meet permit requirements, a Resource Conservation Development (RC&D) authority essentially pays landowners to create credits ( / acts as a buyer) and then sells credits off as needed ( / acts as a broker). More information about the Utah prairie dog pilot program can be found here . And no, not the same as the eerily-similarly-named US FWS pilot program Habitat Credit Trading Program (with a pilot for non-listed gopher tortoise habitat in the US Southeast), which is very basically like conservation banking, but for non-listed species.

Read the Fall Bulletin here

Powering Habitat Mitigation

An agreement between the state of Washington and the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) will protect 20,000 acres of the Willamette River basin. The deal makes concrete the habitat mitigation responsibilities of the BPA, which caused the loss of habitat when it built hydropower and flood–control dams. US$ 150 million is committed over 15 years for habitat projects on 26,537 acres. While Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will oversee the projects, the BPA will retain conservation easements on all the land.

Read about the agreement here


Washington State Wetland Mitigation Credit/Debit Method Up for Comment

Washington State Department of Ecology is soliciting comments on “Calculating Credits and Debits for
Compensatory Mitigation in Wetlands of Western Washington; a new tool to improve the success of wetland mitigation.” The public comment period ends December 15.


Comments can be made here

Big Gun Conservation Bank Approved in California

The US FWS recently approved (Oct. 29) the Big Gun Conservation bank in the Sierra Nevada region in California. The bank, opened by Westervelt Ecological Services, provides credits for the California red-legged frog.


Read about the bank here

Biodiversity in the Bayou

A levee project for Terrabonne Parish, south of New Orleans, has put aside US$ 6 million for wetland mitigation efforts. That money comes from the US$ 100 million budget already allocated to the project. While local officials are anxious to begin construction of the 10 foot levees now and work out funding for mitigation later, the US Army Corps of Engineers is holding up some of the district’s permit applications for future portions of the levee system, saying that the money should be put aside now or it may be absorbed by other parts of the budget, which can happen, according to Matt Rota, water resources director with the Gulf Restoration Network. Local officials argue that New Orleans was given permission to rebuild and construct new levees first and work out the budget and plans for mitigation later, and that Terrabonne should be given the same option. The US$ 6 million is a show of good faith on the part of coastal officials in Terrabonne, but considering the total cost of mitigation will likely end up closer to US$50 million, or half the project’s budget, it may not be enough to budge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Read more here

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