Director-General Ms Nosipho Ngcaba delivered a panel statement during High Level Dialogue on solutions to financing nature for the Post 2020 Era

Sinai Room, 15 November 2018


What are the main opportunities for governments and the private sector to invest in nature?

Financing for biodiversity has been identified as a key limitation to the attainment of the global biodiversity targets. The scientific assessments that have been undertaken all point to the fact that insufficient resources are available for financing the many challenges that confront biodiversity conservation.

South Africa has therefore taken an approach that finding sustainable, tangible financial resources for biodiversity is an integral part of any strategic plan for biodiversity. This perspective was confirmed by the African ministers in the Africa Biodiversity Summit on 13 November 2018, where we adopted a set of biodiversity priorities that include adequate financial and technical resources.

In this regard, South Africa has successfully developed and is in the process of implementing a biodiversity finance plan developed under the auspices of the biodiversity finance initiative (BIOFIN) as part of an overall attempt to comprehensively fund its rich biodiversity.  BIOFIN is a useful mechanism to prioritize actions to meet the funding gap through better spending of existing resources, mobilization of new finance sources and developing innovative finance solutions. South Africa has prioritised 16 finance solutions into three action pillars which are protected areas, ecosystem restoration and sustainable utilisation. Our plan provides 16 financial solutions that are aimed at mobilizing resources for biodiversity through either cost savings, innovative financing solutions or generation of new revenue for biodiversity.

A key consideration in the South African context are the opportunities that lie in private sector investments in biodiversity. The private sector are custodians of large components of biodiversity and ecosystems and are responsible for the primary drivers of land use change which result in loss of biodiversity.

The private sector already makes significant contributions to conservation through the management of land that they manage through biodiversity stewardship arrangements.

South Africa has started to implement the biodiversity economy agenda and we have initiated some biodiversity finance solutions that provide incentives for private sector investment in biodiversity. Examples  include the development of a market-based certification scheme in the wildlife sector. This scheme will have multiple benefits for South Africa in that it will save the government administrative and regulatory costs by relying on a self-certification mechanism through private sector partners while at the same time safe guarding biodiversity through increased biodiversity management standards. This is self-regulation mechanism and relies on cooperation by fellow industry peers.

Second, there are tax incentives for private sector donations to foundations that fund the purchase of land for conservation. WWFSA supports a number of land trusts that purchase land for inclusion into national parks and other provincial conservation areas. Third, South Africa has developed guidelines for implementing Biodiversity Offsets. For instance, if a company applies for a license to mine within the buffer zone, one of the conditions within the permit issued is that the mining company should purchase land in a critical biodiversity area associated with the adjacent protected area in order to offset its impacts within or adjacent to a protected area.

The interface between tourism and biodiversity is another key area that we have invested in as a means of leveraging additional resources for biodiversity. We have adopted Protected Areas own revenue as a key finance solution for biodiversity. Own or commercial revenue from sources such as gate fees, tourism concessions, conferencing facilities and wildlife sales is therefore playing an important role in supporting the financial sustainability of protected areas. The larger charismatic parks such as Kruger national park are able to therefore generate resources that subsidize conservation efforts in other more marginal areas. So, nature based tourism revenue funds conservation in South Africa. In recognition of the fact that South Africa’s tourism industry relies heavily on the country’s natural endowment, we have set up a Tourism Conservation Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to ensure that a proportion of the revenue generated from tourism in invested back to conservation.

All these initiatives show a deep recognition of the value of biodiversity to South Africa’s economic and social development.

Panel discussion: Shaping the biodiversity finance agenda for 2020

South Africa is of the view that the biodiversity agenda for post 2020 needs to have a substantive global work programme on financing for biodiversity. The inadequate progress on the financial reporting framework to date points to the extensive challenges that parties have encountered in utilizing the reporting framework developed by the convention.

Capacity building on financial reporting is therefore a critical concern for not only South Africa, but for other developing countries that South Africa has engaged.

As a biofin country, South Africa has had the fortune to undertake the necessary assessments of the current biodiversity expenditure, do the necessary analysis and get a clearer understanding of the limitations and the extent of the shortfall.

Biofin has provided an important institutional mechanism and guiding frame for collating and analysing information.

In the post 2020 agenda, natural capital accounting will need to be incorporated into the overall framework for biodiversity finance.