BIOFIN Global Workshop on ‘Sustainable Production and Consumption’ starts at IIM Bangalore

Bengaluru: “The effort is to see that biodiversity does not suffer from financialization. Resource mobilization strategies need to be adopted in innovative and effective ways to conserve biodiversity, contrary to some people’s opinion that biodiversity should not be priced,” said Prof. A Damodaran, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion’s IPR Chair at IIM Bangalore, in his welcome address at the Biodiversity Finance Plan (BIOFIN) International Workshop on ‘Sustainable Production and Consumption and Novel Economic Instruments for Biodiversity Conservation’, on November 17 (Friday), 2017, at IIM Bangalore.

Led by Prof. Damodaran, Chairperson, Technical Advisory Group, GoI-UNDP BIOFIN India Initiative, the two-day workshop set off with global and Indian experts discussing the resource gap in financing biodiversity conservation and charting out a strategic roadmap for an effective biodiversity finance plan. Prof. Damodaran was a member of the high level panel of the Convention on Biological Diversity on biodiversity financing strategy that highlighted the importance of the biodiversity financing initiative that since then has taken off in the shape of the global BIOFIN project.

Professor G. Raghuram, Director, IIM Bangalore, delivered a special address. “India is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biodiversity. We must make the best use of economic, financial and market-based instruments to conserve it as the need for conservation is vital; it is also a public policy issue. We need to focus on people’s needs.”

Dr. Rathin Roy, Member, Economic Advisory Council & Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), said that the inspiration behind BIOFIN was to make sense of biodiversity in the public space. “One has to exercise caution when things go up, because that’s when things go down too,” he remarked.

Markus Lehmann, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Montreal, stressed on the Government of India’s role in funding such initiatives. “Traditionally, financing for biodiversity was done from a repair perspective. But now the focus is: production and consumption should take place in a way that biodiversity is not harmed.”

Verena Linneweber, Deputy Country Director, United Nations Development Program, spoke of how biodiversity is taken for granted since it is available at no cost. “This has to change as biodiversity conservation is vital for economic sustainability as well,” she said, adding that India is key to meeting conservation challenges at a global level. “India is a global champion of biodiversity conservation. I hope this conference leads to productive exchange of best practices between representative countries.”

Dr. Sujata Arora, Advisor, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change & National Focal Point, Convention on Biological Diversity, India, contextualized the workshop from the Government of India perspective. “We need to reduce biodiversity loss while meeting sustainable development goals – it is fundamental to our own survival. Conservation has local as well as global value. It has multiple benefits including poverty alleviation.”

She went on to speak about management and policy development for biodiversity conservation. “Resource mobilization and investment are vital to implement a strategic plan. There is a huge gap between what is currently being spent and what is required. India is a megadiverse country, so conservation of biodiversity is a priority. Hence, the ministry has partnered with UNDP for the BIOFIN project. We are on the verge of initiating a nationally appropriate biodiversity plan, hence this conference has started at a convenient time. We need to better understand what kind of solutions will succeed in this country and aim to leverage economic instruments,” she explained.

Onno van den Heuvel, Manager, Global BIOFIN Programme, focussed his talk on BIOFIN in India. He said that the Indian Government is driving programs like BIOFIN, and that is one of the indicators of the success of such programs.

The introductory talks led the way to Session 1, ‘Overview Session: Biodiversity Finance Initiative –Novel Economic Instruments and Sustainable Production and Consumption’, which was co-chaired by Dr. Rathin Roy and Onno van den Heuvel.

Markus Lehmann began the discussion by highlighting the strategic plans/initiatives on biodiversity financing, the solutions for sustainable production and consumption. “From the financial perspective, we must aim for resource mobilizations, report funding need gaps and priorities to prepare a national finance plan for biodiversity. We must devise new and innovative financial mechanisms.”

He also discussed the safeguards needed for financial mechanisms and said that is necessary to promote positives and avoid or mitigate negative effects on biodiversity and livelihoods. He concluded with discussing the COP 13 Roadmap towards post-2020 global biodiversity framework – how it can be further strengthened. “This workshop will be a stepping stone for future initiatives,” he said.

Tracey Cumming, BIOFIN Technical Advisor for African Region, UNDP, gave a bird’s-eye view of the menu of options of financial and economical solutions, the mandate and what can be done to achieve it. “We need to change the behaviour of producers and consumers, and channel additional resources and funds into biodiversity management,” she suggested.

Touching upon regulatory and economic tools, she said economic instruments like tax incentives, impact investing, payments for ecosystem services, green banking standards, using insurance premiums to change land use behaviour of farmers, fees and fines, and certifications, could raise revenue and reduce burden on governments. “The disadvantage of economic instruments is unpredictable results, and they need sophisticated institutions to be implemented. But the key to success is for institutions to work hand-in-hand,” she added.

Prof. A Damodaran related his experiences of working with economic instruments and explained how these instruments have evolved over the years. He also emphasized the need of having safeguards in plugging conservation deficits and building additional resources. “We need to mitigate mismatch between mechanical and biological solutions. Informed decision making is needed and not value judgement,” he said.

All the panellists agreed that short term costs will have long term benefits.

The international workshop is being organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) in partnership with the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, BIOFIN Global, the National Biodiversity Authority, the UNDP and Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. The workshop seeks to address the following issues: how biodiversity finance solutions can contribute to sustainable consumption and production, and what the main biodiversity finance solutions are, that have demonstrated a positive impact on sustainable consumption and production.

Participants in the workshop includes representatives of BIOFIN member countries, representatives of 22 states in India, international organizations, academics and policy makers dealing with issues relevant to the theme of the workshop. It is envisaged that the deliberations of the workshop would result in providing strategic policy direction for the preparation of an effective Biodiversity Finance Plan.

The other main sessions of the workshop will include: Current Economic Instruments Utilized in BIOFIN Countries; Landscape or Biome-based Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation – The State of Art; Market Access Instruments to Enhance Sustainable Production and Consumption, and Mainstreaming Development Programmes for Sustainable Production and Consumption.

The workshop will feature more international experts such as Dr. B. Meenakumari, Chairperson, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), India, Dr. Rita Pandey, NIPFP, India, Dr. J Soundrapandi, NBA/UNDP-India, Leila Makhmetova, Legal Expert, Kazakhstan, Muhktar Djumaliev, Adviser of Minister of Economy, Member of PAGE team, Kyrgyzstan, Lira Zholdubaeva, National BIOFIN Coordinator, UNDP, Kyrgyzstan, Dr. Orapan Nabang Chang, Chief Technical Advisor, BIOFIN Thailand, Niran Nirannoot, National BIOFIN Coordinator, United Nations Development Programme, Bangkok, Thailand, Dr. Giridhar Kinhal, Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, India, Yrsaliev Bakyt, Deputy Director, Forestry Department, State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry, Kyrgyzstan, Dr. U Sankar, Honorary Professor, Madras School of Economics (MSE), Chennai, Massimiliano Riva, Policy Specialist, Innovative Finance, UNDP, New York, USA, Dr. Shigefumi Okumura, Director, Future Corporation, Japan, Chimed-Ochir Bazarsad, BIOFIN Lead Expert, Mongolia, Dana Mamanova, Tax Policy Specialist , Kazakhstan, Dr. TR Manoharan, FSC National Representative for India, Vinod Kumar Jindal (ICoAS), Joint Secretary (SBM) & National Mission Director, Swachh Bharat Urban, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, India, Dr. David Meyers, UNDP Global BIOFIN Team, Ravindra Singh, Senior Advisor, GIZ, New Delhi, India, Odjargal Davaajav, Officer, Division of Clean Technology, Investment and Production, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Mongolia, Anabelle Plantilla, Project Manager of BIOFIN, Philippiness, and Dr. Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, India.