Georgia set to mobilize resources for biodiversity after finance gap revealed

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Policy makers and biodiversity finance experts discussed the challenges related to biodiversity conservation in Georgia and progress in cooperation for mobilizing resources in the country, at a side event during the COP 14 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Georgia is fortunate to be endowed with rich biodiversity. It is part of two globally important and threatened biodiversity hotspots (out of a total of 35 hotspots worldwide) – the Caucasus and Irano-Anatolian biodiversity hotspots. Biodiversity and ecosystem services make a highly significant contribution to the Georgian economy. It also supports livelihoods and key sectors in the economy including forestry, tourism, agriculture, mining and energy (hydroelectricity in particular). Healthy ecosystems play a key role in disaster risk reduction, climate change adaption and mitigation.

Georgia’s vision is that by 2030, the people of Georgia will be living in a harmonious relationship with nature, whereby biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, ecosystem processes and services are maintained, a healthy environment is sustained and benefits essential for the society are delivered. It is developing an Emerald network, a network of special conservation interest in the country.

But through BIOFIN, it has been found that a total need for biodiversity conservation between 2013 – 2022 is US$390 million. Over the last 5 years around US$115 million was spent and 140 m USD is budgeted and about 135 m (35% of the total need) is a GAP.

BIOFIN is also working to link key sectors with each other in the pursuit of mobilizing resources and also better managing the current resources available for conservation. “When starting the BIOFIN process, the most important thing is to have the Ministry of Finance on board and regularly meet with all the stakeholders”- said Tornike Phulariani, BIOFIN’s National Coordinator in Georgia.

According to the Biodiversity Finance Plan established through BIOFIN with the Government, 160 m GEL (US$73 million) can be mobilized over 10 years through the implementation of nine prioritized finance solutions.

One of these solutions is “Improving the state budget justification capacity at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA)”.  This has already resulted in the final 2019 draft state budget including 720,000 GEL for biodiversity related activities – a 2000% increase compared to the funds allocated in 2017.

At this point, ensuring implementation of the NBSAP is critical to achieve Georgia’s national targets and contribute to achieving of global biodiversity targets. MEPA has recognized BIOFIN’s work in the country and it is yielding significant results and is critical to achieving the NBSAP targets. A BIOFIN second phase would allow a continued focus on implementing the Biodiversity Finance Plan developed during the first phase of the project.