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Protecting ecosystems

The Addis Agenda contains a range of commitments to protect ecosystems, which are spread throughout the seven Action Areas, and many of which are closely linked to the SDGs. They are monitored in the respective sections of the Task Force’s online annex. This cross-cutting section provides highlights and links to other relevant pages.

Protecting ecosystems

Coherent policy, financing, trade and technology frameworks to protect, manage and restore ecosystems are difficult to assess globally, but the status of different ecosystems and global trends provide indications of policy progress. The examples of marine fish stocks and forests both show large rates of loss, but stabilization in recent years.

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Based on an analysis of assessed stocks, the proportion of world marine fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels declined from 90 per cent in 1974 to 69 per cent in 2013 and appears to have stabilized over the last few years. Both developed and developing regions increased their protection of marine areas from 2000 to 2014.

Global forest area as a proportion of total land area is assessed by FAO every 5 years in its Forest Resources Assessment (FRA). The last FRA indicated a value of 3,999,134,000 ha of forest for 2015 which is equivalent to 30.6 per cent of the world’s land area. Forests have therefore continued decreasing since FAO began its forest resources assessments in 1990 (when forests covered 31.6% of the world’s land area), but the rate of loss has been cut by 50% to an annual loss of just 0.08% between 2010 and 2015. The slowdown in forest loss is largely due to an increase in planted forests: while planted forests represented just 4% of all forests in 1990, this figure had climbed to 7% by 2015. The next FRA shoud be released in 2020.

Overall, the percentage of terrestrial, inland freshwater and mountain key biodiversity areas covered globally by protected areas has increased from 16.5 per cent to 19.3 per cent, 13.8 per cent to 16.6 per cent, and 18.1 per cent to 20.1 per cent, respectively, from 2000 to 2016.

Mobilization of resources for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) committed to substantially increase total biodiversity-related funding, from a variety of sources, and the Addis Agenda welcomed this commitment. In an assessment of global financing for biodiversity, the CBD assessed Official Development Assistance, support by multilateral development banks, in particular the World Bank, and actions in financial markets.

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In terms of ODA, the OECD reports a sharp increase in biodiversity-related official development assistance (ODA) over the past decade, from US$3.6 billion in 2006-2007 to US$ 8.7 billion worldwide for 2014-2015. This represents a jump from 3% of total ODA in 2006-2007 to 6% in 2014-2015. According to OECD, “[n]early half of these activities (46%, USD 4.0 billion) targeted biodiversity as a primary or ‘principal’ objective, implying that they would not have been funded but for their biodiversity-related goals. This represents what can be considered a ‘lower bound’ of biodiversity-related ODA”.

According to the OECD DAC Creditor Reporting System, commitments in forestry ODA stood at US$742,366,000 and disbursements at US$735,055,000 in 2015, which is the latest year for which data are available. Forestry ODA figures have known a significant increase since the Creditor Reporting System began recording this variable in 2002, when commitments forestry ODA stood at a mere US$358,967,000 (US$267,986,000 in disbursements). The figure peaked in 2010 at US$ 1,143,378,000 (US$1,058,711,000 in disbursements) before dropping again.

Funding for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) has shown a much more dramatic evolution in the past decade. According to the Voluntary REDD+ Database housed at FAO, REDD+ funding disbursed for initiatives starting in 2016 totalled US$ 11,729,765, a sharp drop from the 2009 peak of US$ 3,571,852,819. Both OECD’s figures on forestry ODA and the Voluntary REDD+ Database provide yearly figures.

The World Bank committed loans for US$ 31.8 billion, of which the IDA contribution was US$ 7.7 billion, to support investment in environment and natural resource management between 2004 and 2013. It financed a portfolio of 243 biodiversity conservation projects worth over US$ 1.1 billion in the 10 years from FY2005 to FY2014. These projects have been undertaken in 74 countries with the majority in Africa and the Latin America and Caribbean region.

There are also many biodiversity related initiatives in financial markets and the private sector, including for example the Code for Responsible Investing in South Africa (CRISA), which provides guidance on how institutional investors should carry out their investment activities and use their influence to promote good governance, ESG reporting in many countries, green bonds and many others (which are reported on in sections on private finance and international public finance). 

One example of capacity building to manage biodiversity is UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). It is a UNDP-managed global partnership to develop and implement an evidence-based methodology that supports countries to identify biodiversity priorities, cost and mobilize resources for those investments. 




The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) is a UNDP-managed global partnership to develop and implement an evidence-based methodology that supports countries to identify biodiversity priorities, cost and mobilize resources for those investments.

Combatting desertification

The cost of adopting sustainable land management practices and of restoring or rehabilitating degraded land varies depending on the specific agro-ecological context, the extent and degree of degradation and the socioeconomic conditions and opportunities. Cost estimates thus vary widely. Monitoring efforts in the context of the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2015 found that developed countries provided USD 2.2 billion to affected non-developed country Parties for DLDD-related activities in 2012–2013, an increase over the prior period, and that the number of countries to have established integrated financial strategies to combat desertification, land degradation, and drought had also increased.

Conservation and sustainable use of oceans

As of 16 June 2016, 168 countries have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (UNCLOS). One country (Azerbaijan) has ratified UNCLOS since the end of 2015. 50 countries (as of January 2017) have agreed to implement the provisions of UNCLOS relating to the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. This is three countries (Chile, Ecuador, Ghana) more than in 2015.