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MIGA Plays a Significant Role in Protecting Biodiversity

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To mark Biodiversity Day, MIGA sat down with Sally Johnson, a biodiversity specialist with over 30 years of experience working with governments, the private sector and NGOs, to discuss the challenges and future of halting and reversing nature loss. 

[MIGA] You have been involved in the biodiversity space for over 30 years. How have you seen it evolve, and where is it headed? 

[Johnson] It has been incredible watching the issue go from being viewed as a local planning issue to being identified as one of the top three global risks by the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

Data shows that awareness of the implications of biodiversity and ecosystem services decline has risen dramatically over the last 10-15 years. Studies show that the global economy is dependent on biodiversity, with the WEF putting the figure at $44 trillion – over half the world’s total GDP. 

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), agreed by 188 governments in December 2022, sets out an ambitious goals and targets to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. The GBF also calls for better disclosure of nature-related risks. Similarly, emerging frameworks, such as the one proposed by the International Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), encourage companies to disclose nature-related impacts and dependencies, including supply chain risks. This will hopefully shift companies’ focus from site-based considerations of biodiversity to fully integrating it into their business strategies, thereby contributing to a nature-positive future. 

[MIGA] Why is this important and what does it look like?

[Johnson] TNFD, for example, involves various stakeholders, notably asset owners and managers overseeing $20 trillion in assets. The framework has four pillars: governance, strategy, risk and impact management, along with metrics and targets. Companies will assess their management of nature-related risks, integration of these risks into business strategy and financial planning. It also requires them to develop quantitative and qualitative performance indicators. 

[MIGA] Climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected.  What opportunities and challenges do you see in this regard? 

[Johnson] It is predicted that climate change could overtake land-use change as the leading cause of biodiversity loss by 2070, and biodiversity loss will in turn have huge implications for climate change. We are already seeing impacts on marine ecosystems, species ranges are shifting, and climate change is affecting tropical forests that play a huge part in regulating global climate. 

[MIGA] What do you think is driving the increased interest in biodiversity from the private sector? 

[Johnson] Collaboration between governments, business and civil society will be key for the delivery of the GBF. The private sector is required to disclose and reduce its impacts on biodiversity, increase positive impacts and promote sustainable patterns of production. The private sector also has a huge role to play in providing additional financing.

[MIGA] How important is the role of  Multilateral Developments Banks, including MIGA, in promoting biodiversity finance? 

[Johnson] The performance standards of MDBs have played a significant role in setting the standard for mitigating biodiversity risks. MDBs are developing a methodology to track nature finance, aiming to create more opportunities for impact minimization and to direct financing toward conservation, restoration, and innovative mitigation approaches If MDBs are more intentional in incorporating financing for nature into projects, this could increase the overall funding for addressing biodiversity loss. 

[MIGA] MDBs need to balance socioeconomic development with conservation and restoration of biodiversity. Is that possible? 

[Johnson] Yes, but it’s complicated. Poverty, often linked to subsistence activities and high birth rates, is a major driver of biodiversity loss. MIGA, along with other MDBs and private sector financiers, are instrumental in providing alternative economic opportunities, supported by enabling environment. Improved living standards lead to better education and lower birth rates – so biodiversity benefits. However, some development activities also adversely impact biodiversity in ways that are hard to mitigate.

[MIGA] What are five interventions that you would like to see implemented to address biodiversity loss?

  • We need to allocate significantly more financial resources to conserving and restoring nature to meet the 30 percent target set out in the Global Biodiversity Framework. Protected areas will be more effective if they are well-resourced and well-managed.

  •  Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use should be at the core of decision-making across all sectors, particularly agriculture, as it is one of the biggest causes of biodiversity loss.

  • Apply robust biodiversity safeguards akin to MIGA/IFC performance standards for all managed assets ($126 trillion as of 2022) and increase the disclosure of nature-related risk and dependencies. 

  • Governments should stop approving developments in World Heritage Sites and intact forest landscapes, and only allow activities in other protected areas that are not incompatible with the value for which they have been designated. They also need to make a concerted effort to protect great apes, many of which exist outside of protected areas.

  • We need to end the illegal wildlife trade.

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