Multilateral development banks to step up protection of nature

By Vanora Bennett

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Joint statement on “Nature, People and Planet” at COP26 in Glasgow

The multilateral development banks (MDBs), including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), have agreed to step up their efforts towards the protection, restoration and sustainable use of nature.

In a joint statement signed at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow today, the institutions state that “progress on global sustainable development, climate and biodiversity goals cannot be achieved without addressing the direct and indirect drivers of nature loss and transforming the way in which we value, use, conserve and share the benefits from nature”.

To address this challenge, the MDBs commit to further mainstream nature considerations into their policies and operations. This will be reflected in five areas: (1) maintaining thought leadership in the development of safeguards for ecosystems, (2) fostering “nature-positive” investments, (3) creating regional synergies and setting out strategic approaches, (4) valuing nature to guide decision-making and (5) enhancing reporting on efforts and initiatives to mainstream nature.

Under the concept of “nature-positive” the signatories also “commit to develop projects, business models and/or financing instruments to support economic activity that seeks to reverse the drivers of nature loss and promote the protection, restoration and sustainable use of nature and its services to people”. This approach will be based on an “operational definition” that will build an understanding of the financial risk posed by nature loss “to help direct financial flows away from business-as-usual models”.

In addition, the MDBs offer their support to “step up nature financing and efforts to mobilise or leverage private finance for investments in nature”. They also promise to support governments in revising their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans to align with the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and, “as appropriate, commit to support countries to secure high ambition for implementing nature-based solutions”.

The statement warns that action to protect nature can no longer be delayed and is as urgent as addressing climate change. “Human activity is causing biodiversity loss at an unprecedented level, with potentially far-reaching systemic implications for wellbeing, livelihoods and economies,” the declaration says.

“Nature is the foundation of our civilisation. For the past 30 years, the EBRD has set environmental protection as a key priority. With this statement on Nature, People and Planet, we commit to do more to preserve our collective natural capital,” EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso told heads of government attending the opening of COP26.

The joint statement was signed by the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the EBRD, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), IDB Invest, the Islamic Development Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and the World Bank Group.

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