Although the EU biodiversity strategy recognises the importance of funding in addressing the biodiversity crisis, a number of significant barriers and bottlenecks at the national level could prevent the efficient use of available financing for nature, according to a new report published on Tuesday.
Researchers from green organisations EuroNatur and CEE Bankwatch Network, who held a series of roundtable discussions in Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, and Slovenia in 2022, found that the financial allocations for nature restoration and conservation measures are too low, even though EU funding is available, particularly for nations situated in Eastern Europe.
Looking back, the EU did not achieve key objectives under its previous ‘Biodiversity Strategy to 2020’ that looked at the 2011-2020 period, placing greater pressure on the need to now also achieve those objectives by 2030. In many cases, the situation worsened, according to the report.
While the new EU strategy has pledged €20 billion per year, biodiversity funding would need more than double (€48 bln per year) according to research from the Institute for European Environmental Policy and consultancy firm Trinomics.
Only €29 bln per year is expected to be actually spent, also taking into account national spending, over the next 10 years – meaning that there is a current financing gap for biodiversity of around €186.89 bln.
However, biodiversity protection doesn’t just lack money.
“What contributes further to this problem is the fact that there’s often less and less funding available on the national and sub-national levels that could potentially solve at least part of the co-financing and refinancing problem,” said Hrvoje Radovanovic, from Friends of the Earth Croatia, during a presentation on the findings.
“Paradoxically, national authorities are often trying to justify these cuts by arguing that EU funds should fill these gaps, but in reality by reducing the national sources of finance for the sector, they are actually reducing the capacity of many actors in the sector to successfully absorb EU funds.”
Euronatur and CEE Bankwatch Network highlighted some additional factors including an overall lack of knowledge and awareness about what constitutes biodiversity, insufficient cooperation, difficult bureaucratic requirements to obtain fundings, and the over-centralisation of institutions responsible.
The report includes some recommendations such as inducing political commitment; clearly defining what biodiversity investments are and what they will deliver to nature and society; creating synergies between experts; guaranteeing financial trust; setting up proportionate rules around how financing is spent; and improving coordination and full transparency.
“Upscaling biodiversity funding requires political commitment, all other proposed recommendations are conditioned by this recommendation,” said Pia Hofferle, from DOPPS Birdlife Slovenia.
“If there is no political will, there is no will to upscale the funding for biodiversity to facilitate and to promote biodiversity funding.”
By Emanuela Barbiroglio – email@example.com
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