Conservation groups call on wealthy countries to fund biodiversity efforts

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  • Environmental groups call for $60 billion a year for biodiversity funding
  • Wealthy nations responsible for trade damage to ecosystems
  • Several biodiversity meetings are on the horizon

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) – Environmental groups are calling on wealthy countries to increase spending on biodiversity conservation in developing countries and hold them accountable for the damage caused by international trade.

On Tuesday, groups including the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Campaign for Nature and World Resources Institute announced a goal of mobilizing $60 billion a year in international biodiversity funding.

This follows commitments by developed countries to provide $100 billion in annual climate finance to help the poorest countries, which have been disproportionately affected.

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“We have a moral obligation to provide developing countries with the means to conserve nature,” said Bruno Oberle, director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

One million animal and plant species are currently threatened with extinction – more than ever before in human history. In the Amazon alone, more than 10,000 species are at risk of extinction due to the clearing of rainforest for cattle ranching, soybean cultivation and other uses.

More than $700 billion is needed each year to address the global biodiversity crisis, $500 billion of which can be addressed by rolling back harmful subsidies, the groups said. Of the remaining $200 billion, developed countries are expected to provide 30%, or $60 billion.

“International trade is responsible for about 30% of threats to species worldwide,” said Manfred Lenzen, a sustainability researcher at the University of Sydney. This means, he said, that rich countries are largely able to protect their own habitat and environment while “outsourcing all these problematic biodiversity activities elsewhere and importing commodities produced in countries low income”.

Environmental groups announced the target ahead of a major round of UN biodiversity talks, due in Geneva later this month. The aim is to secure commitment from rich countries ahead of next month’s meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China.

In 2009, rich countries promised to mobilize $100 billion a year for climate finance by 2020. But they have not reached this goal and the latest estimates indicate that it will not be reached before 2023. Despite their poor record on environmental funding, conservation leaders hope wealthy nations will understand that it is in their interest to act.

“It’s not a tax for biodiversity,” said Marco Lambertini, chief executive of World Wildlife Fund International. “It is an investment in the services that biodiversity generates for our society, for our economy, for our well-being and our health.”

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Reporting by Gloria Dickie Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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