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Economy needs sufficient biodiversity financing

The economy of Botswana depends on the sufficient financing for biodiversity management and utilisation, according to environmentalists.

Biodiversity, which is described as the diversity of living organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part, is said to be critical towards the sustenance of the agricultural and tourism sectors, which are the main contributors to the economy at national and local levels.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Jimmy Opelo said while biodiversity and ecosystem services are central to the economy and development of the country, the value is often ignored and only realised when the provision of ecosystem services is impaired.

He was speaking during a stakeholder workshop hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism in Gaborone this week.

“Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity and provides a number of goods and services essential for survival on earth. These resources are important both for subsistence and commercial purposes,” Opelo said.

Botswana has made significant contribution towards biodiversity management through available financing mechanisms.

He said the national budget is mainly used to support biodiversity management in the areas of wildlife, forestry and associated research.

According to the permanent secretary, the government has rapidly increased funding of the key biodiversity departments in nominal and

real terms over the period 2006-2007 to 2012-2013.  However, he said the ministry’s development expenditures are low and are mostly destined for wastewater and sanitation infrastructure.

“Revenues are much lower than the expenditures and have hardly grown,” Opelo said. 

He therefore noted that public funding is currently critical for biodiversity conservation and management.

He also decried the lack of data on private sector financing of biodiversity conservation, adding that the public sector analysis is at the level of departments and not of specific biodiversity expenditures.

External financial assistance for biodiversity management is estimated to be around $14.8 million.

Some of the external funding institutions include the UNDP, World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) amongst others.

Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Kalahari Conservation Society and Birdlife Botswana are also actively involved with biodiversity conservation, management, and financing thereto. UNDP resident representative, Jacinta Barrins stated that there is need to come up with methodology to finance biodiversity.

Barrins noted that the economy of Botswana depends on the people protecting their natural resources.

“People tend to forget the extent to which human activities such as over-exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation have on diversity,” she said.




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