ESCWA, Sweden Launch Platform to Protect Biodiversity
Biodiversity in the Arab region faces mounting challenges from water scarcity, land degradation, desertification, and climate change. Despite the presence of diverse ecosystems such as deserts, mountains, coastal areas, wetlands, and forests, investment in nature conservation and restoration remains insufficient.
In response to this pressing reality, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Government of Sweden have joined forces to launch a multi-stakeholder platform aimed at protecting biodiversity in the Arab region.
The platform was officially inaugurated during an inception meeting held at the United Nations House in Beirut on July 12 and 13, with keynote speeches from the ministers of the environment of Palestine and Lebanon.
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ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Mounir Tabet emphasised that this platform serves as a response to the urgent need for mobilising biodiversity finance in the face of a changing climate to expedite the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Under the framework of this platform, ESCWA will provide capacity-building, technical expertise, and financial support to three working groups focusing on key areas:
Nature-based solutions for climate resilience;
Land degradation in arid agricultural zones; and
Renewable energy and biodiversity.
These working groups will bring together stakeholders from various sectors in the region to identify priority interventions and develop bankable biodiversity projects.
These projects can then be presented as funding proposals to international, regional, and national financial institutions as well as potential donors interested in supporting biodiversity conservation in the Arab region.
Tabet highlighted the significance of the platform in mobilising biodiversity finance, particularly within the context of limited climate finance in the region.
The Arab States, despite expressing climate finance needs of around $570 billion through their nationally determined contributions, received only $34.5 billion in international public finance by the year 2020. Furthermore, a mere 30% of this funding was allocated to adaptation, leaving a considerable gap in financing biodiversity interventions related to agriculture, forestry, land, and water sectors.
The inception meeting held at ESCWA marked an important milestone in rallying the engagement of diverse groups and stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organisations, and financial institutions. Their collective efforts will focus on analysing and addressing the priority challenges that impact biodiversity in the region, aligning with the goals of global biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals.
The establishment of this platform falls within the scope of the "Climate Resilience through Regional Cooperation for Inclusive Sustainable Development" project, which receives support from the Government of Sweden.