At this year’s UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal (COP15), countries are gathering to finalize the post-2020 global framework on biodiversity (GBF). In the landmark agreement, countries are expected to commit to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and institute a new global plan to deploy resources for the conservation and restoration of nature. The finalization of the framework is poised to be a “Paris” moment for biodiversity.
Multilateral development banks (MDBs) play a key role in achieving these targets, and have already begun steps to scale up their support. Last year at the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the IDB Group joined 8 other MDBs to sign the Joint MDB Statement for Nature, People, and the Planet, in which they pledged to scale up “nature-positive” investments and support for their client countries in achieving their biodiversity targets. A core commitment of the Joint Statement was to create institutional strategies to mainstream nature and biodiversity in MDB investments, operations, and advisory services.
One of the ways the IDB Group is making progress on this commitment is through mainstreaming nature and biodiversity considerations into its Country Strategies. These strategies are documents that the IDB and client governments co-create to define development and investment priorities for four-to-five year periods. Over the past year, the IDB and country governments have been using Country Strategies as an opportunity to chart out how investments in nature and biodiversity can help achieve countries’ development priorities and contribute to economic growth. Here are three examples:
The IDB Country Strategy with Ecuador (2022-2025) highlights how IDB will support the country to develop innovative financing mechanisms, such as debt-for-nature swaps and conservation trust funds, to channel increased investments in natural capital assets. Recognizing the country’s biodiversity as a major driver of the tourism industry, the strategy includes investment in sustainable, community-based ecotourism as an approach to sustainably recover the industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Country Strategy also sets the scene to integrate nature-based solutions (NBS) into new infrastructure investments, noting the role of ecosystems in building resilience to climate risks, such as landslides, floods, and storms.
The IDB Country Strategy with Belize (2022-2025) recognizes Belize’s coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves as cornerstones to Belize’s economy, noting that Belize’s coral reefs generate an estimated US$135-176 million in annual gross revenue directly related to tourism, play a key role in supporting the country’s fisheries, and serve as a critical defense to coastal flooding and erosion. To protect and enhance these natural capital assets, IDB and Belize agreed to work together to enhance sustainable use of protected areas, continue developing the blue economy, and implement multi-sectoral strategies to sustainably manage biodiversity.
The IDB Country Strategy with Jamaica (2022-2026) includes nature-based solutions as a key method to build the country’s economy and address challenges related to food security, poverty alleviation, job creation, infrastructure resilience, and climate mitigation and adaptation. For example, the strategy highlights the important role of forests in providing ecosystem services for the agriculture sector–including regulating water availability, promoting soil health, and providing erosion and flood protection. Recognizing this, the strategy commits to supporting sustainable and climate-smart agriculture methods to boost productivity and promote food security while preserving ecosystem services.
To help guide this process, IDB worked with the Cities4Forests Initiative at the World Resources Institute to conduct rapid assessments of natural capital investment opportunities. The process entailed working with local teams to identify the core development objectives of each country and identifying how protecting and enhancing nature could support outcomes for people, economies, climate, and other goals. IDB’s Natural Capital team within the Climate Change and Sustainability Division, IDB climate experts and specialists from the Environment, Rural Development, & Disaster Risk Management Division, in coordination with the Vice Presidency for Countries, then used these assessments to inform strategic dialogues with country governments. A preliminary analysis of these updated Country Strategies showed that biodiversity and natural capital topics are more prevalent than in past versions.
Integrating natural capital into Country Strategies is just one of many ways IDB is mainstreaming nature and biodiversity. IDB is in the process of creating an institution-wide plan to mainstream natural capital and biodiversity, which includes four pillars: (i) integrating biodiversity into country dialogues, (ii) integrating dimensions of biodiversity and natural capital into IDB-financed operations, (iii) generating country-specific knowledge and capacity-building on biodiversity (iv) mobilizing resources towards biodiversity and natural capital.
Integrating biodiversity and natural capital in Country Strategies helps build a foundation for the IDB to scale up nature-positive investments in LAC. For countries in LAC, achieving the ambitious goals of the GBF will take an unprecedented level of action and deployment of capital towards nature and biodiversity. Through working together with mainstream nature and biodiversity, develop policies that protect and enhance natural capital, and developing innovative financing mechanisms for nature, IDB and countries can help secure a nature-positive future.