By Sharon Atieno

African leaders have called for equal financial commitment from global leaders to meet the financial gap required to meet biodiversity targets.

They were speaking at the sidelines of the inaugural African Protected Areas Congress (APAC) 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The annual funding budget allocated to nature recovery activities and programs is about USD 50 billion, yet experts have estimated the cost to be between USD 700 billion- one trillion per annum.

Sikeade Egbuwalo, National focal point to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for Federal Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria said that though there are numerous ways provided to meet the funding gap including reduction of subsidies, what will work for Africa is for every country to commit 1% of GDP to biodiversity conservation activities.

“We are not begging for you to give us the money to protect our biodiversity, we are committing 1% of our GDP, you also should do the same in your countries, as well as the official development assistance (ODA) that flows down to developing countries,” Egbuwalo said.

Sikeade Egbuwalo giving her presentation

Additionally she said that the rights of indigenous and local communities should also be protected in terms of finances, noting that they should be at the center of resource mobilization.

Mohammed H. Abdullahi, Minister of Environment, Nigeria noted that it is important for African countries across the board to begin looking for funding opportunities to support nature conservation and general biodiversity activities within the continent.

“The bulk of the burden for protecting nature, conserving biodiversity and securing ecosystems services often falls on impoverished, debt-ridden developing countries or underfunded agencies within those countries. These countries already have many pressing priorities and can not afford the cost,” he said.

Abdullahi underscored the need for homegrown initiatives which harnesses energy and resources to finance biodiversity in the continent.

Mohammed H. Abdullahi during the side event

Prof.Lee White, Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea, and Environment, Gabon observed that if no action is taken Africa will lose much of its biodiversity leading to instability and security issues all over the continent.

To avoid this, he said mobilization of predictable and sustainable resources is one of the key requirements and called on countries to think about innovative and sustainable finance for nature which include payment of ecosystem service, biodiversity credits, nature bonds and involving private stakeholders.

Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Co-Author of the Conservation Continent called on African governments to continue stepping up for nature. “Some of our species have already become extinct, our forests have been destroyed, our streams have dried up. This is an existential issue now, not just a choice.”