Global biodiversity loss has been disproportionately driven by consumption of people in rich nations. The concept of ‘loss and damage’ — familiar from international agreements on climate change — should be considered for the effects of biodiversity loss in countries of the Global South.
For decades, countries across the Global South have been calling on rich countries to accept responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions that have increased global temperatures and resulted in irreversible damage across the world, even before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was formally agreed in 1992. At the 2022 UNFCCC conference of the parties (COP27), a landmark agreement was finally reached to establish new “funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change”1. The intention is that rich countries contribute to the fund, which is then channelled to poorer countries to address losses and damages linked to climate change — a kind of ‘polluter pays’ approach.
A month after the COP27 climate conference ended, the long-delayed COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity took place in December 2022. There, there were similarly heated discussions as to who should pay to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity, and countries of the Global South were adamant that rich countries should shoulder more of the financial burden. Alongside the adoption of a new framework of goals and targets for reversing biodiversity loss (the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)2), a decision on resource mobilization3 included the establishment of a Global Biodiversity Framework Fund to support implementation of the GBF. This fund is intended to contribute to the mission of the GBF to halt and reverse biodiversity loss — but it stops short of financial provision for the effects of biodiversity loss. Here, we explore the merit of applying the loss and damage concept to the nature finance debate.
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