According to the report titled Congo Basin Forests – State of the Forests 2021 and produced by Central Africa Forest Observatory (OFAC), sluggish economic growth in the last 20 years has stalled investment in commercial forest plantations in the region. This is compounded by the difficulty in finding financing for business operations like forest plantations which do not quickly generate profits. It takes between 5 and 8 years to get a positive cash flow after investing in forest plantations.
A new lifeline for wildlife conservation finance – GEF
What do capital markets have to do with biodiversity? Until now, very little. This changed this week with the launch of a landmark Wildlife Conservation Bond or “rhino bond” that offers a payout linked to the protection of black rhinos, a critically endangered species whose health is essential to the ecosystems in which they live. The bond will support South Africa’s conservation of black rhinos in two of their strongholds in the country: the Addo Elephant National Park and the Great Fish River Nature Reserve.
Photo credit: nwdph/Shutterstock
The Wildlife Conservation Bond, issued by the World Bank with funding from the Global Environment Facility, is not just another financial product. It is a game-changing innovation that can direct funding to nature reserves and protected areas whose budgets have been stretched by the coronavirus pandemic, a drop in tourism, and recent fiscal strains.
While there is growing awareness about the need to protect wildlife for the health of the planet, most investment in nature today comes from national and sub-national governments and, to a lesser extent, from development banks, international NGOs, private foundations, and international agencies. Private sector actors, financial intermediaries, and institutional investors are absent. Large investors and financial institutions have largely avoided this space to date because of its risk/return profile. The business of protecting nature is long term and involves uncertainties that can be unfamiliar to investment managers. On top of it all, there is a perception that investments in nature may not be profitable.
The five-year rhino bond, which raised $150 million in its March 23, 2022 issuance, has changed this story. It is a combination of existing financial products – a bond with an excellent credit rating (AAA for World Bank issued bonds), paired with a performance-based grant funded by the GEF which results in a new financial structure that can successfully harness investment from capital markets to directly support endangered species conservation.
At the end of the life of the bond, investors will receive back the principal (by the safest type of issuer you can find) along with a variable payout depending on the rate of black rhino population growth in the two target areas in South Africa. That variable payout or success payment is financed by the GEF.
In the worst-case scenario, if the rhino population growth is flat or negative, investors will receive principal repayment at maturity, with no success payment. In the best-case scenario, if the rhino population grows above 4 percent, investors will receive the principal amount back and the success payment funded by the GEF. In intermediary outcomes, with population growth between 0 and 4 percent, the success payment will increase by fixed amounts over the life of the bond in a step-up fashion.
In all cases, the bondholders will be promoting efforts in biodiversity conservation. This is because, in exchange for the potential success payment at maturity, investors agree to forego the coupons a traditional World Bank Group bond would pay. Those foregone coupons are the source of financing for the conservation activities on the ground in the two parks selected for this project. These activities are designed not only to aim for black rhino population growth of at least 4 percent, but also to improve the management of over 150,000 hectares, reduce poaching and provide over 2,300 jobs for local communities in and around both protected areas – a welcome boost in a region severely impacted by COVID-19.
The bond issuance followed earlier work to identify suitable parks, explore the financial features of the bond, and establish the types of conservation activities that should be financed to meet the black rhino population growth goals. This product development phase work under the $4.5 million Rhino Impact Investment Project was funded by the GEF and led by UNDP in partnership with the Royal Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, and the Zoological Society of London.
It also builds on the GEF’s support for other capital markets transactions, including the first sovereign blue bond issued by the Seychelles Government, issued in 2018 in collaboration with the World Bank to increase investment in marine protected areas and more sustainable fisheries. Another example is a project approved by the GEF Council in December 2021 to provide partial credit guarantees in collaboration with Corporacion Andina de Fomento for the issuance of two green bonds in the capital markets of Peru and Ecuador aimed at sustainable land use and biodiversity conservation in prioritized territories of the dry forests in these two countries.
These are among many efforts by the GEF to harness private sector financing for environmental protection through its Blended Finance initiative, also called the Non-Grant Instrument program, which aims to show how innovative finance can work to combat global environmental degradation.
The rhino bond is an example of how thinking out of the box and collaborating across institutions can result in an attractive investment opportunity that can be scaled for wide benefit. Donors can work jointly with financial institutions, corporates, or other entities with good credit ratings to package products that can achieve the risk/return profile needed for investors. Ultimately, this initiative could be replicated in other parks to protect additional rhino populations as well as other umbrella species whose threatened status is consequential for all of us.
With international climate negotiations putting Indigenous Peoples and other local communities in the spotlight for climate funding, more attention is being paid to protecting those groups’ rights to their land and forest. That often takes the form of land titling programs, but titles alone don’t guarantee rights. And while tenure security can make communities more secure, exactly what that means varies from place to place, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).
Today, Transparency International released the latest results of our annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The index ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A blue map of the world against dark background with symbols of conflict, oppression, corruption, justice and people power
The Adaptation Fund capped off another successful year, providing tangible results on the ground for climate-vulnerable countries and raising more than US$ 230 million in new pledges and contributions in 2022 at the United Nations COP27 climate change conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.
When the gavel came down on the resolution to end plastic pollution at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi last March, there were hugs and tears among the delegates. The emotion reflected the importance of this historic milestone: a legally binding global instrument toward ending plastic pollution.
Speech delivered by: Inger Andersen. For: 160th Resumed meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Location: Nairobi, Kenya....The last time we spoke, I was in Montreal at the negotiations of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. My connection with you was, unfortunately, cut short due to technical gremlins. My apologies for that, and my thanks to Sonja for delivering my remarks....
New environmental education guide for Latin America, Caribbean region on action for nature, climate and pollution - UNEP
Quito, 27 January 2023 – A new tool aimed at reinforcing environmental education and was launched today by The Environmental Education Network, an intergovernmental platform of environmental education in Latin America. The Environmental Education Resources Guide is launched as part of Ecuador’s Environmental Education Week, organized by its Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Senior UN economists warned on Wednesday that intersecting crises are likely to add further damage to the global economy, with growth set to slow from three per cent in 2022 to 1.9 per cent this year. This will be one of the lowest growth rates in recent decades, apart from during the 2007-8 financial crisis and the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
African Development Bank Group team meet Swiss envoys from West Africa to discuss Africa’s development agenda
Swiss ambassadors meeting in the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan invited a senior management team from the African Development Bank Group to exchange views on development and cooperation.The envoys held a working luncheon, hosted by the Swiss assistant state secretary for Sub-Saharan Africa, Siri Walt, on Friday 20 January. Ambassador Walt is the head of the Africa Division at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.
The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank Group have a concluded a technical session on how to conduct an upcoming joint study on driving development in Africa. The goal of the study, titled Key Actions to Drive Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa, is to identify key actions that will allow Africa to rise and remain at a growth level of 7% GDP.
2022 AEC: Accessing clean, affordable energy in Africa is key as the world moves towards energy transition: panelists - AFDB
As the world moves toward energy transition, it is important that Africa’s ongoing challenges with access to clean, affordable and inclusive energy be addressed for the continent to achieve a fair and just energy transition, panelists said during the 2022 African Economic Conference (AEC).
Abu Dhabi, 16 January 2023 – As the Earth warms at a dangerous pace, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-led Cool Coalition, with the United Arab Emirates’ incoming presidency of COP28, announced the development of a Global Cooling Pledge and a “Cool COP Menu of Actions” that will feature prominently at COP28. The Menu will be defined over the coming months in close collaboration with partners including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).
A new law will ensure that a set of key goods placed on the EU market, such as cattle, beef or soya, will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and elsewhere in the world. Since the EU is a major economy and consumer of these commodities, this step will help stop a significant share of global deforestation and forest degradation, in turn reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss, according to the commission. This major agreement comes just before the start of the Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) which is set to define protection goals for nature for decades to come.
Forest Trends was founded with the mission of putting an economic engine behind nature conservation – the idea being that our economy, our society, and our wellbeing all depend in very real and material ways on healthy natural ecosystems. That idea’s time has come. The world is looking to “nature-based solutions” to combat climate change, mitigate water risks, prevent pandemics, protect biodiversity, support food insecurity, and so on. Forest Trends is fielding many new opportunities at a totally different scale than in the past, and at a much more systemic level.
Fern - New report outlining options for partnerships to accompany the new EU regulation on deforestation-free products
23 January 2023, Fern is launching a report which outlines options for partnerships to accompany the new EU Regulation on deforestation-free products. Partnerships will be an essential part of maximising the Regulation’s impact in decreasing deforestation on the ground. They will also help mitigate risks linked to the Regulation: that it would cause “leakage” of unsustainable production to other consumer markets, or that smallholders would bear the cost of implementation.
Call for inputs for the global Stocktake in 2023 In the run-up to the conclusion of the first global stocktake in COP 28, submissions on views on the approach to the consideration of the outputs component of the first global Stocktake are open until 15 February 2023. Also, submissions for the third technical dialogue, scheduled to be held during the June SB session, are open until 6 March.
At COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, President Emmanuel Macron and President Ali Bongo announced that a One Forest Summit would be held in Libreville, Gabon, on 1st and 2nd of March, 2023. Tropical forests provide an invaluable service both to local populations and to humanity by offering many resources but also by sequestering carbon and hosting biodiversity hotspots.
Of previous editions, the Global Synthesis Report is composed of stand-alone analyses that can be read independently, for a more thematic or sectoral reading. Discover in the report: infographics on the evolution indicators of emissions and activities, the existing and emerging trends in the strategies of actors, signals of change in the various sectors, and case studies of exemplary initiatives.
Protect the Campo Ma’an national park and stop Cameroun Vert SARL (Camvert) from destroying Indigenious Bagyeli people’s and ancestral lands! More than 28 communities call the Campo Ma’an area home. Now, a palm oil company, Cameroun Vert SARL (Camvert), has started clear-cutting these ancestral lands about seven times the size of Dakar illegally.
In the aftermath of COP27, where global leaders have gathered for over two weeks in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, those of us who regularly engage directly with developing countries know that the path forward is clear. Developing countries are committed to climate-compatible development and ready to implement. However, driving climate action on the ground requires unprecedented finance.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced he will convene a Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023, to generate “new, tangible and credible climate action” to “accelerate action at the mid-way point” of the SDGs. Going forward, he said he will push for a Climate Solidarity Pact, for all big emitters to “make an extra effort” to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the 1.5°C goal and provide support for those who need it.
The Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI), a capacity-building programme established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, provides support, advice, and guidance to countries in their efforts to achieve global biodiversity targets in marine and coastal areas. The Initiative, the subject of an event held during the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15), achieves these aims through such activities as the SOI Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fishery Bodies and the SOI Training of Trainers programme.
The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) convened a three-day summit to take stock of the progress in implementing the Principles of Effective Development Co-operation since their endorsement in 2011, and to discuss the future of work. Stakeholders agreed to build on past commitments, achievements, and experiences and to address the “unfinished business of the aid effectiveness agenda.”
Seven safeguard principles for REDD+ were adopted at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun in 2010. Two of these principles address participation and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) directly. These principles are meant to be “interpreted” by REDD+ countries using their national legal frameworks, to decide, for example, who is recognized as an IP or LC, and what is meant by “respect” or their “participation”.
Indonesia’s forests are home to 10-15 percent of the world’s known plants, mammals, and birds, as well as vast carbon stocks. As such, any degradation or deforestation of these ecosystems will have important local, national, and international implications.
Partners call on CBD negotiations to commit to increasing agroecological food production practices. As environmental ministers at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (UNCBD COP15) negotiate an agreement to tackle catastrophic degradation of our planet, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have announced a partnership to accelerate implementation of food-based actions that will help restore nature and limit climate change. The two organisations will partner on major initiatives that support farmers in utilizing the power of natural ecosystems to build healthy and productive food systems that provide enough healthy and nutritious food within planetary boundaries.
Aligning Chad’s Nationally Determined Contribution and National Action Plan to Advance Climate Action – NDCPARTNERSHIP
Chad is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change. Because its economy is based mainly on the primary sector, Chad’s reliance on natural resources makes it particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Take for example the case of Lake Chad, where the water volume has decreased by 90% since the 1960s due to climate change and over-exploitation. Chad’s vulnerability to climate change is further exacerbated by the country’s relatively low level of preparedness when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
In December 2022, the European Union (EU) finally agreed on the text of its long-awaited Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR). For the first time companies selling certain products on the EU market will be punished if they are found to have contributed towards deforestation. This was the final stage in a long and often tortuous journey, in which forests were thrust centre-stage of EU policymaking. 2023 will be another crucial year for the EU and forests, especially since it will be followed by the EU’s ‘cooling off’ period, when no new policies are initiated, in the run-up to the 2024 European elections.
New research by the University of East Anglia (UEA) highlights the risks of countries relying on nature-based solutions to achieve net zero. The article summarizes the findings of the study. For example, the study found that once the bulk of emissions have been reduced, countries plan to "cancel out" the leftover difficult-to-decarbonize emissions, such as those from agriculture, by using forests and soils to remove carbon from the atmosphere. However, this may prove risky because forests and soils are also threatened by a range of impacts, such as fire, disease, changes in farming practices, and deforestation.
Stop burning trees to make energy, say 650 scientists before Cop15 biodiversity summit - theguardian
More than 650 scientists are urging world leaders to stop burning trees to make energy because it destroys valuable habitats for wildlife. Bioenergy has “wrongly been deemed ‘carbon neutral’” and many countries are increasingly relying on forest biomass to meet net zero goals, according to the letter, addressed to world leaders including Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. “The best thing for the climate and biodiversity is to leave forests standing – and biomass energy does the opposite,” it says.
This article is giving an introduction to the paper "Has global deforestation accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic?". Analysis of tree cover loss over time was used to determine whether deforestation observed in 2020 deviated from expected trajectories after the first COVID-19 cases were reported; both at the regional level for the Americas, Africa and Asia and at the country level for Brazil, Colombia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia.
A growing body of research shows that even forests located far away from urban centers provide tremendous benefits in regulating the global climate, water and biodiversity systems that are essential to people’s health and quality of life. New research led by WRI and Pilot Projects through the Cities4Forests initiative synthesizes the benefits that forests at three scales — inner, nearby and faraway — offer cities. The report provides the scientific imperative for city-led policies, incentives and investments that help conserve, restore and sustainably manage forests at each of these scales. The article outlines the many benefits across four categories that forests provide to cities from the report.
Nature is a vital resource, necessary for our health, livelihoods and well-being. It also accounts for $44 trillion of economic value generation. In addition, nature-based solutions can provide more than one third of the mitigation needed by 2030 to keep climate goals in reach. Nature tech will be vital in helping facilitate and accelerate these solutions, making them valuable tools in tackling climate change.
Controversy over the lifting of the moratorium in the DRC, when Bazaiba throws a spanner in the works
The statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Eve Bazaiba, at the press briefing on Monday 28 November, on the lifting of the moratorium has raised the roof. Like a shockwave, the affirmation of the lifting of the moratorium established by the DRC's sovereignty over its forests in 2002 has provoked strong reactions in public opinion.
SW4SW Dialogue - Timber Value Chains for Resilience and Carbon Neutrality, 1-2 December 2022 at NOUBOU International Hotel Douala, Cameroon
The SW4SW Dialogue - Timber Value Chains for Resilience and Carbon Neutrality seeks to identify effective approaches, concrete actions, and actors to be mobilised to make timber value chains, especially those focused on the domestic market, a lever for a forest sector with high environmental, economic and social added value.