Business and Biodiversity

PROJECTS

European Biodiversity Resource Initiative

The European Biodiversity Resource Initiative (EBRI) was initiated in the framework of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS), following the request at the Fourth Ministerial Conference 'Environment for Europe' in Aarhus for the financial sector to increase its involvement in sustainable development issues.

The purpose of Phase 1 of the European Biodiversity Resource Initiative (EBRI) was to establish an operational framework that would bring the needs for biodiversity resourcing in Europe together with the interests of the Banking Community and International Financial Institutions (IFIs), with the ultimate aim of increasing the investments in bankable biodiversity activities in Europe. The first phase of EBRI was concluded in autumn 2002.

The EBRI Phase 2 work programme (from December 2002 through September 2004) made information, expertise and project-related experience available to potential entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA). You can download the final report below. A European Task Force on Banking, Business and Biodiversity was established to guide this work. ECNC provided the chair and secretariat of the Task Force.

Aim
The aim of the Task Force was to: 

  • bring together stakeholders who are interested in organizing financing for business investments related to conserving biodiversity;
  • encourage financers (bankers and otherwise) and policy workers (principally at the European level) to take measures for promoting the establishment of a Biodiversity Financing Facility (BFF).

Following the first exploratory meeting in autumn 2002 , the Task Force:

  • developed with the particular support of the EBRD a concept for a BFF, to be underpinned by a Biodiversity Technical Assistance Facility (BTAF);
  • discussed with the European Commission (DG Environment) ways to underwrite the pilot operations of the BTAF, referred to as BTAU (Biodiversity Technical Assistance Unit). The European Commission provided financial support to a project aimed at developing the BTAU. The project was led by RSPB together with ECNC and various partners, including BirdLife partners in Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, and the Hungarian Development and Trade Agency;
  • promoted the issue of banking and biodiversity, including BFF, in several events external to the Task Force meetings, including meetings of the PEBLDS Council, the Fourth Ministerial Conference 'Environment for Europe' (Kyiv, 2003) and Intergovernmental 'Biodiversity in Europe' Conferences.

As regards the issue of banking and biodiversity the last aim to fulfil was the establishment of a BFF. In this regard there were already several prototypes:

  • EBRD support in developing a BFF facility for Poland with involvement of FFI;
  • Hungarian Development Bank establishment of biodiversity-related investment support programme, with support of ECNC and the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water, and advice from EIB;
  • ECNC survey on investment support requirements in Bulgaria and Croatia, supported by the Dutch BBI Matra programme, which led to the design of an appropriate financing mechanism.

A European-level BFF, fully backed by one or several financial institutions, relayed at the local level by a network of financial intermediaries, remains to be agreed upon and implemented. As such a financial mechanism depends upon a successfully operating (and financially supported) BTAF.

In the framework of the European Task Force on Banking, Business and Biodiversity, various financial institutions participated, including EBRD and EIB.

As a result of the increased attention for banking and biodiversity, EIB incorporated biodiversity as a priority area in its corporate strategic plan. In 2006 IUCN and EIB concluded a memorandum of understanding in order to increase cooperation on banking and biodiversity. ECNC already has a long-standing relationship with EIB.

National banks, such as the Rabobank Nederland, the Hungarian Development Bank and the Deutsche Bank, increased their efforts in the field of banking and biodiversity in Europe as part of the EBRI initiative.

The operations of the Task Force were supported by many of the members, in particular, the contribution of the following should be noted: Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape, the Ministry of Environment and Water of Hungary, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Rabobank Nederland and the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Europe.

The Fifth Ministerial Conference 'Environment for Europe' in Kyiv (2003) welcomed the EBRI results and adopted a Kyiv Biodiversity Resourcing Target:  'By 2008, there will be substantially increased public and private financial investments in integrated biodiversity activities in Europe, via partnerships with the finance and business sectors, that have resulted in new investment opportunities and facilities as outlined by the European Biodiversity Resourcing Initiative, taking into account the special needs of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.'
In the framework of the preparation of the Sixth Ministerial Conference 'Environment for Europe' in Belgrade (October 2007), biodiversity financing was again prioritized. The PEBLDS Council adopted a draft Biodiversity Resolution, with included the following acknowledgement: 'The progress in Biodiversity Financing in the framework of the European Task Force for Banking, Business and Biodiversity under PEBLDS, resulting in increased practical partnerships with the finance and business sector, pilot projects and the development of a Biodiversity Finance Technical Facility.'

The issue of business and biodiversity including the role of financial institutions, is receiving more and more attention in EU framework. In November 2007 the Portuguese Government, together with the European Commission and with support from the Countdown 2010 Partnership, organized a high-level EU Conference on 'Business and Biodiversity', which it was hoped would result in concrete commitments on this theme of the corporate sector. The President of the European Task Force on Banking, Business and Biodiversity was invited to address the Conference.

Thus, the EBRI and the European Task Force for Banking, Business and Biodiversity have for several years been supporting the development of innovative investment approaches and instruments that will be useful for both entrepreneurs and their partners in local financial institutions in order to develop pro-biodiversity business investment opportunities. EBRI ensured that the issue of biodiversity investments and the role of finance institutions is now on the European political agenda and the agenda of several European banks.

Time frame
2002 - 2006



Funders


Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape; Council of Europe; UNEP; Dutch Ministry of ANF.

Outputs
EBRI and the European Task Force for Banking, Business and Biodiversity have for several years been supporting the development of innovative investment approaches and instruments that will be useful for both entrepreneurs and their partners in local financial institutions in order to develop pro-biodiversity business investment opportunities. EBRI ensured that the issue of biodiversity investments and the role of finance institutions is now on the European political agenda and the agenda of several European banks.