Biodiversity financing strategist BIOFIN Philippines has urged the government and the private sector to “invest in nature” as this will increase global economic output by $250 billion and contribute to the elimination of pandemics.
As the International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated this year, BIOFIN, a project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), prodded policy-makers to contribute to financing the Philippines’s 13-year biodiversity plan.
The Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP), which started in 2015 and will last until year 2028, will cost P24 billion yearly. The annual funding gap for this initiative is pegged at P19 billion.
“According to Campaign for Nature, Protecting the world’s land and ocean resources outweighs financial costs at least five-to-one. Globally, this can lead to $250 billion in increased yearly economic output, plus $350 billion in improved ecosystem services annually,” Angelique Ogena of Biofin said in a statement.
The other critical reason for investing in nature is human health itself. When watersheds and forests—the habitat of wild animals—are destroyed, direct interaction between human and the wildlife that carries diseases unknown to man becomes imminent.
“The International Day for Biological Diversity puts us at the center of conservation efforts in the fight to save biodiversity amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ogena.
“Seventy-five percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans originate from zoonotic pathogens. That is enough reason to revisit and reprioritize resources toward the improvement of natural resources management especially in protected areas to prevent future pandemics.”
BIOFIN, co-implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Philippines, seeks to raise awareness on the economic and ecological values of protected areas (PAs).
The campaign aims to increase BIOFIN’s revenue by establishing partnerships with the private sector and other agencies that can have common mission to support PAs.
BIOFIN is pushing for a proposed Presidential Proclamation to proclaim June 2021 to May 2022 as the “Year of the Protected Areas” and June of each year as “Month of Protected Areas”.
Both are in support of Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Law (NIPAS).
“Nature is a reliable provider of our daily basic needs such as clean water for drinking, air for breathing and other resources such as medicine, jobs, and climate-change mitigation to create a more resilient nation,” said Ogena.
“If we zoom in to the ecosystem and species levels, national parks are at the top tier when it comes to natural wealth and therefore the most in need of protection and sustainable management.”
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a global network of protected areas can store at least 15 percent of terrestrial carbon, boosting the value of conserving protected areas to new heights.