Biodiversity provides critical ecosystem services for our economy, society and human wellbeing – bees to fertilize crops, plants that provide medicines, and forests that clean air and regulate our climate.
Healthy ecosystems support livelihoods for millions of people and are the basis of sustainable development. We need smarter, more efficient policies to safeguard biodiversity.
Marking this International Year of Biodiversity, the 10th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (18-29 October) in Nagoya will agree on a strategic plan for 2011-2020, with new targets for 2020 and a new biodiversity vision for 2050.
As the international community discusses the next round of biodiversity targets, they look to new strategies to meet them. One approach, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), is a direct financial incentive from users of ecosystem services to individuals and communities such as farmers, foresters and fishers to change their behavior in favour of more sustainable land and water use. Based on case studies from around the world, the new OECD publication "Paying for Biodiversity: Enhancing the Cost-Effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services" recommends ways to design more effective and less costly PES programmes.
While these programmes have proliferated rapidly worldwide, with over 300 PES currently in place, most are at local and regional level. It is critical to scale them up and to ensure that they are as cost-effective as possible. The latter is especially important in the wake of the economic crisis where public and private budgets are increasingly constrained and biodiversity will be competing with multiple other demands.
Five national PES programmes alone are estimated to channel more than USD 6 billion per year -- in contrast, ODA flows for biodiversity, as tracked by the OECD, is in the order of USD 3 billion per year. Yet, cost-effective PES programmes require improved targeting of areas with high biodiversity and ecosystem service benefits, and areas where there is a high risk of loss or degradation. In Tasmania, for example, better targeting tools used for a PES has brought down the cost of the programme by 50%.
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