The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) in Cambodia



Project Background

With a population of over 15 million people and located in the southern part of the Indochina Peninsula, Cambodia is one of the most biodiverse countries in Southeast Asia. After more than two decades of strong economic growth, Cambodia has attained the lower-middle-income status as of 2015. Cambodia's protected areas currently account for 41% of the country’s land cover, thanks to 7.5 million hectares added as Biodiversity Conservation Corridors in 2017. Despite the great potential of Cambodia’s protected area system in contributing to poverty reduction and economic development, it is currently under severe pressure. Moreover, the allocation of the government budget to implement conservation efforts remains minimal. Despite more than doubling the size of the PA system over the past 5 years, the Ministry of Environment’s annual budget has remained below 0.5% of the National Budget.

Cambodia participated in Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) as the 31st member country. The BIOFIN aims to develop biodiversity finance plans which are implemented for Cambodia through assessing assessments and mapping key finance solutions. The BIOFIN started it’s methodological work in 2019, hosted within and in collaboration with the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) and the Ministry of Environment. 

Key Expected Outputs

The overall objective of this project is to identify and support the implementation of biodiversity finance solutions that together have the potential to significantly improve the management and financing of biodiversity management in Cambodia.  More specifically, the project will attain five main outputs:

  • Output 1: Biodiversity Finance Policy and Institutional Review (PIR) to establish a baseline of the national policy and institutional context in the country
  • Output 2: Biodiversity Needs Assessment (FNA) to reveal and calculate the total amount of funding required to sustain and protect biodiversity
  • Output 3: Biodiversity Expenditure Review (BER) to understand all types of expenditure contributing to sustainable biodiversity protection and management
  • Output 4: Biodiversity Finance Plan (BFP) to identify and support the implementation of biodiversity finance solutions that together have the potential to significantly improve the management and financing of biodiversity management in Cambodia. 
  • Output 5: Implementation of Biodiversity Finance Solutions (2021-2023)


Biodiversity Finance Policy and Institutional Review (PIR)

The PIR and its policy brief were developed and endorsed by the project board. The PIR reveals that 36 financing solutions for biodiversity conversation were identified,  tested and implemented in Cambodia. Some of the finance solutions were selected as priority finance solutions to mobilize more funds for biodiversity, ecosystem and protected areas management, especially implementing Cambodia’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).

Biodiversity Needs Assessment (FNA)

The board also endorsed the FNA report.  The policy brief is being designed for awareness-raising and policy change. The FNA shows that financial needs are approximately over US$305 million based on the 2018 data baseline, and the needs is estimated to be double in 2022.

Biodiversity Expenditure Review (BER)

Like PIR and FNA, the BER was also endorsed by the board. In 2018, the biodiversity expenditure was counted for approximately US$ 112 million, which is equivalent to 2% of the overall national budget or above 0.5% of GDP. This leads to a huge financial gap for implementing NBSAP of US$135 million annually. Most of the data for biodiversity expenditure was from development partners and government budgets, while the data from private companies was not accessible. An independent review may be needed to understand biodiversity expenditure better in the future. 

Biodiversity Finance Plan (BFP)

The BFPP reveals the top fourteen biodiversity finance solutions and priority milestones. The top five biodiversity finance solutions were prioritised through a number of consultive meetings with relevant stakeholders and groups of experts. In addition, the implementation strategy for the selected biodiversity finance solutions was completed in August 2021 to be ready for implementation in phase 2 of the BIOFIN Initiative starting October 2021.

Project’s Partnership

The project is UNDP’s global initiative implemented in 35 countries with funding support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Government of Germany.  In Cambodia, BIOFIN works in close partnership with the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), Ministry of Environment, other Government entities, development partners, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia.

Status: Ongoing
Project Duration: December 2018 – September 2021 (Phase I)
November 2021-December 2023 (Phase II)
Location: Cambodia
Focal Area: Environment
Partners: National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), Ministry of Environment
Donor(s): Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
Government of Germany
Budget: 2018-2021: USD $ 300 000 (NORAD)
2021-2023: USD $ 200 000 (Government of Germany)