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Malawi hosting 10th Regional Dialogue on Biodiversity Finance

By Thumbiko Nyirongo, Contributor

The 10th Africa Regional Dialogue for the United Nations Development Programme’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (UNDP-BIOFIN) is currently underway at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre, Malawi.

The three days long summit, which among others aims at sharing experiences, discussing biodiversity finance strategies and exploring opportunities for finance solutions, has attracted over 70 biodiversity finance experts from 16 African countries.

Speaking during the official opening of the summit, Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change Dr. Michael Usi called upon countries in Biofin to increase allocation towards biodiversity conservation.

Usi noted that the biodiversity expenditure is the smallest of the total national budget in most countries; “yet financial needs assessments reveal that millions of dollars are needed to manage biodiversity-specific goals effectively”.

“Increasing budget expenditure for biodiversity conservation is not only a moral imperative but also an investment in our collective future.

We need to act swiftly and decisively to prioritize biodiversity conservation in the national budget and demonstrate our country’s commitment to preserving the rich biodiversity for sustainable economic development,” said Usi

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Simplex Chithyola Banda, Secretary to the Treasury Betchani Tchereni and UNDP resident representative Fenella Frost are also attended the opening ceremony.

In her remarks, UNDP resident representative Frost described the summit as a milestone for Malawi as a country. She said the Biofin summit seeks to share experiences and lessons learned on the effective implementation of finance solutions among Biofin countries.

“This dialogue is an invaluable platform for experts in biodiversity finance across Africa and the UNDP-BIOFIN Global Office to convene, share experiences, and gather insights into innovative resource mobilization strategies. Together, we aim to chart a sustainable course for biodiversity conservation,” said Frost

She adds: “We are here to facilitate experience sharing and technical discussions among BIOFIN countries, leveraging our collective expertise to drive meaningful progress in biodiversity conservation.

FROST: Together, we aim to chart a sustainable course for biodiversity conservation

“We seek to share experiences and lessons learned on the effective implementation of finance solutions, drawing insights from global initiatives and emerging frameworks such as disclosure frameworks, subsidy repurposing, insurance mechanisms, and risk management strategies.

“We endeavour to strengthen the network of BIOFIN countries, fostering collaboration and cooperation to enhance our collective impact.”

According to Frost, since 2018, UNDP Malawi has been steadfast in its support of the Malawi Government’s implementation of the BIOFIN project, achieving commendable milestones such as the National Biodiversity Finance Plan (BFP) for Malawi.

However, Frost, was quick to point out that despite a number of success stories the initiative has encountered a number of challenges.  

“Our journey has not been without challenges. Over the past three decades, Malawi has witnessed a concerning decline in biodiversity due to unsustainable practices, impacting our nation’s economic growth and the livelihoods of over 80% of our population.’

‘Through the BIOFIN Project, Malawi has made significant strides, including the restructuring of the national budget to prioritize biodiversity, supporting carbon trading, and enacting Payment for Ecosystem Services.

“These efforts are instrumental in mobilizing resources and fortifying our commitment to biodiversity conservation,” said Frost, who also re-affirmed UNDP’s commitment to support Malawi in identifying sustainable financing solutions for biodiversity conservation.

Delegates at 10th Biofin summit currently underway in Blantyre,Malawi

Since its inception in 2012, UNDP-BIOFIN has played an important role in assisting 41 countries worldwide in developing biodiversity financing plans and mobilizing resources for conservation efforts.

Its innovative approach enables countries to measure current biodiversity expenditures, determine financial needs, and identify suitable finance solutions to bridge national biodiversity finance gaps.

In 2024, 91 more countries will embark on this journey with the help of the Global Environment Facility and UNDP-BIOFIN. 

Malawi joined the global BIOFIN partnership in 2018 and identified a need for US$93 million from 2020-2025 to meet national and sub-national biodiversity targets outlined in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).

Annually, according to a statement posted on UNDP website, UNDP-BIOFIN organizes regional dialogues worldwide to exchange best practices and refine strategies, mechanisms, and methodologies.

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