Validation Workshop on “Biodiversity Expenditure Review and Financial Needs Assessment” of the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Project in Cambodia

Your Excellency Dr. Tin Ponlok, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment (MoE) / Chair of the Project Steering Committee

Your Excellency Chan Somaly, Under Secretary of State and focal point for BIOFIN Cambodia Project

Your Excellency,(TBC), Provincial Governor of Siem Reap

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Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of UNDP Cambodia, I have the great pleasure to welcome all of you to this important consultative workshop.

First of all, I would like to extend my appreciation to leadership of Excellency Dr. Tin Ponlok, and Excellency Chan Somaly, the Chair and Vice Chair of Project Sharing Committee for Assess Benefit Sharing (ABS). for BIOFIN Cambodia Project, for supporting and leading this important work to explore innovative finance solutions for biodiversity in Cambodia. I would like to extend many thanks to all excellencies, government representatives, development partners, industry leaders for joining this event and especially thank the National BIOFIN Team who is hosting this important event today.

Biodiversity provides fundamental goods and services to our live and global economy. It is a life supporting safety nets for human beings, such as provision of food, clean water, air, energy, incomes, spiritual values, and much more. Those natural materials are used to fuel our economy these days.

However, this precious natural capital (resources) is now shrinking ad at an alarming and never before experienced rate. In a recent report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) they conclude that over one million species are under extinction if the business-as-usual scenario continues.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),studies show that  there is strong evidence that COVID-19 originated in bats. Major outbreaks of zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases caused by pathogens jumping from animals to humans) are associated with the increasing loss of natural habitats, including biodiversity. So, the global pandemic crisis gave a clear message that it is time to invest in biodiversity to prevent the future pandemic, which causes health, economy and climate change crises.

Thus, what UNPD and its government partners have done? In the Conference of Parties (COP) 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2012, UNDP and the European Commission (EU) had launched the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). It was soon joined by the Governments of Germany and Switzerland, followed by the Governments of Norway and Flanders in 2014.

Cambodia, one of the methodology countries, through the funding support by the Government of Norway, is now part of the global BIOFIN initiative programme. The inception workshop was held in March 2018 to kick off the implementation of BIOFIN in Cambodia. The first BIOFIN steering committee meeting was held in November 2019 to review its progress, I myself with Excellency Chan Somaly facilitated the BIOFIN discussion. 

The initial finding of the Policy and Institutional Review (PIR) shows that the investment for biodiversity in Cambodia remains low. However, PIR lays our the foundations for key finance solutions for resourcing to mobilization in the future. Some key nature-based solutions are 1) payment of ecosystem services, 2) eco-tourism, 3) REDD+/carbon credit and many more. However, to understand the gap, our team of experts are assessing the diversity expenditure, assessing the finance needs, which leads to prepare a fuller finance plan for biodiversity. This is the ultimate goal of BIOFIN project.

This BIOFIN project is fully linked to other projects of the Ministry of Environment and NCSD, such as the Land-use Financial Mapping for REDD+, Cambodia Climate Change Adaptation (CCCA), Building an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Development (BESD), and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Project in particular.  We hope the project could propose sustainable financing mechanism to support the management of our vast protected area system, covering over 7 million hectares.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today marks an important step to generate your inputs for these different assessments.

The overall object of today’s workshop will be to present the final reports on Policy and Institutional Review (PIR) and key results from Biodiversity Expenditure Review (BER) and Financial Needs Assessment (FNA) will be presented as well for your inputs. Therefore, I would like to encourage strong participation from all stakeholders today to review and comment on these key documents.

The whole idea with BIOFIN can be part of the solutions using economic and finance dimensions to achieve Cambodia’s Biodiversity and sustainable development goals. Cambodia has already started some innovative financing mechanism including REDD+, Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES) and Conservation Trust Fund and hopefully these can be scaled up nationally. Beside these, we believe that many more practical solutions and financial gaps can be defined by the BIOFIN technical team and our experts attending this workshop.

I would like to sincerely thank the involved government agencies, specifically the MoE and NCSD, UNDP Cambodia teams and all development partners for their participation and committed efforts in making today’s event a success.

I wish you a successful workshop in exploring finance solutions for protecting biodiversity in Cambodia.

Thank you.

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