Institutional Failure

International agreements are indispensable for addressing the ecosystem-related concerns that span national boundaries. Numerous multilateral environmental agreements have been instituted to conserve biodiversity, the CBD being the most comprehensive. Other agreements include the World Heritage Convention, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Migratory Species, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and there are numerous regional agreements. But globalization as manifested in the proliferation of agreements is a two-edged sword. The powerful international agreements that deal with trade, for example through the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (World Trade Organization, 2008), typically ignore impacts on biodiversity (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).

The conflict between development and conservation policies is often marked in developing countries. Economic ministries are far more influential than weak and underfunded environment ministries. Moreover, ministerial portfolios such as forestry are predisposed to corruption by politicians and officials alike, thus making sustainable forestry practices difficult to implement (Tacconi, 2007a; 2007b).

The conservation of biodiversity is not helped by the adoption of unrealistic goals. Parties to the CBD (decision VI/26 COP, April 2002) are committed '[T]o achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth' (CBD, 2008b: 1).This target was incorporated in the Millennium Development Goals at the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2006. However, as pointed out by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), there are trade-offs between the Millennium Development Goals (United Nations, 2007) in meeting poverty, hunger reduction and health targets and the 2010 target of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss.

Perverse incentives such as production subsidies work in concert with failure to value biological resources and to internalize environmental costs into prices. Policies are already in place to counteract these failures locally, nationally and internationally '[B]ut their full implementation remains elusive' (UNEP 2007: iii). In relation to the 2010 biodiversity target of the CBD, the UNEP (2007) notes that that the drivers of biodiversity loss are strongly linked to the growth in human population and

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Note: Assistance for biodiversity as a proportion of official overseas development assistance has been in decline since 2001. Incomplete data may however account for the relatively low proportion reported in 2005.

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Note: Assistance for biodiversity as a proportion of official overseas development assistance has been in decline since 2001. Incomplete data may however account for the relatively low proportion reported in 2005.

Figure 4.5 Biodiversity assistance as percentage of total overseas development assistance, 1998-2005

associated necessary increases in consumption of energy and resources, and concludes that these trends do not bode well for meeting the target on a global scale.

The weakness of global efforts to halt biodiversity loss is highlighted by the failure of the CBD to undertake any estimation of its funding needs. This task had not been accomplished by 2007, even in the face of the Convention's declaration of 2002 that biodiversity loss will be reduced by 2010 (CBD, 2007). The World Parks Congress in 2003 concluded that budgets for protected areas in the early 1990s totaled only about 20 percent of the estimated $20 to $30 billion annually required to establish and maintain a comprehensive protected area system (CBD, 2007: 2). A review of the biodiversity assistance as a proportion of development assistance averaged 2.1 percent over the period 1998-2004 (CBD, 2007: Table 1, 19). This proportion could be in decline (see Figure 4.5).

While ecosystem restoration is a common practice around the world, it is far costlier than protecting the original ecosystem (FAO, 2006). The magnitude of the costs of restoration is illustrated in case studies later in this chapter.

Another policy failure common to most countries that exacerbates the loss of biodiversity is absence of natural asset balances in national accounts. For example, the income from logging primary forest contributes to gross domestic product, but the fact that there has been, at the same time, a reduction in the value of a country's forest asset (which should include the value of sequestered carbon as well as the value of timber) is not recorded.

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