Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann at COP15 Sub-forum 7: Finance Sector Support for Biodiversity

Posted October 15, 2021

UNDP Resident Representative in China, Beate Trankmann, delivering remarks


尊敬的宗国英常务副省长, (Zong Guoying)

Distinguished Leaders, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m delighted to join you in Kunming, Yunnan – home to so many natural wonders, that remind us of why we are here today:

To redirect finance towards our planet, rather than against it.  

Our relationship with nature is broken. Human damage is accelerating species extinctions, along with climate change.

The IPCC warns: we will exceed global warming of 2°C in the 21st century, without deep emission cuts in the coming decades.[1] Warmer environments destroy our forests, rivers and oceans. This constrains our sources of life.

It also directly impacts 2 billion people, who depend on nature for their livelihoods… while losing ecosystems – which absorb greenhouse gases – also quickens climate change.

Biodiversity and climate change must be tackled together. From flooding in China, to wildfires in America, rising natural disasters demonstrate the dangers of pushing our planet’s boundaries.

The cost of complacency will be infinitely higher than the cost of acting now. Half of global GDP depends on ‘ecosystem services,’ like pollination of crops.[2] And half of all targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also rely on such services.

Everyone’s future – including businesses and industries – is at stake.  We cannot survive, let alone prosper, without nature. It’s time we put our money where our future lies: in nature. It’s time we put nature at the heart of our economies, budgets and investments.

In finding the finance for our planet, we have a mountain to climb

$824 billion: that’s what we estimate is needed – every year – to sustain biodiversity. The current global investment? Just $142 billion.

So, an almost $700 billion gap, for the foundation of everything we value – our health… wealth… family… food… sanity and survival.

That gap widens further when we count negative financing, destroying nature. According to the OECD, governments spend $500 billion a year on investments that harm biodiversity, particularly agricultural subsidies.

So, we must urgently redirect global finance flows from nature-negative, to nature-positive.

UNDP works with our partners around the world, supporting progress in three main areas:

FIRST, countries must advance public finance for nature. We partner with governments to prioritise allocations for climate and biodiversity goals in national budgets, as well as aligning tax systems and private sector regulations with them.

This includes our Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN), with more than 40 countries, including China, which joined this year.

SECOND, corporations must redirect finance, towards nature. This year, UNDP co-founded the Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), comprising financial institutions and companies.

This allows banks and businesses to measure and report on environmental risks to their investments, along with their impact on nature, incentivizing investments that value – rather than cost – the earth

THIRD, financial institutions must reflect nature’s true value. With ecosystem services currently being free public goods – markets create private profits, and public costs.

But demand for nature-positive finance is growing - fueled by growing recognition that biodiversity loss is a major business risk.

To help meet it, UNDP is piloting Nature Performance Bonds (NPBs) with five countries. These offer debt relief in exchange for certified delivery on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for nature.

This creates more fiscal space for the borrower to meet competing financial priorities, including protecting biodiversity.

China's green finance leadership is increasingly recognized. It was encouraging to hear President Xi Jinping’s announcement – that China will establish a new RMB 1.5 bln Kunming biodiversity fund – to protect biodiversity in developing countries. China also co-chaired the G20 Working Group on sustainable finance, as well as launched the world's largest carbon emissions market this summer.

Two of China’s largest banks, ICBC and Bank of China, also recently joined the Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

As a major global sovereign creditor and green bond leader, China is uniquely placed to advance NPBs, reaffirming its environmental leadership ambitions internationally.

UNDP stands ready to explore such opportunities, building on our experience of pilots in various debtor countries.

Overall: we must strengthen financing flows on all three fronts – public, private and through financial institutions – bringing governments, businesses and banks together, to save nature.

I urge all of us to consider what our organisations can do better for nature, today.

Because our future hangs in the balance. We look forward to hearing from you, and working with you, on the bold, financial changes needed to protect our planet, and invest in generations to come.

Thank you!