Radical new way to protect nature’s diversity provides incentives and helps tackle poverty

Press release, 3 March 2020
New research introducing a system to help protect biodiversity while also reducing poverty, is released by IIED today, marking World Wildlife Day (3 March).

In ‘Making the market work for nature: how biocredits can protect biodiversity and reduce poverty’, IIED proposes the first system of its kind for raising funds as an incentive to conserve the rich diversity of life while making sure the women, children and men living in and around these areas also benefit.

The system comprises biocredits – units of biodiversity in all of its forms, from forests to indigenous seed varieties, coral reefs to tigers and insects. The value of biocredits rises only when the area or number of species it comprises increases. This provides an incentive for improving conservation areas and species numbers.

Also, biocredits would finance conservation efforts in a specific area and could not be set against destructive activities in other areas, as happens with carbon and biodiversity offsets.

Under the system, governments, organisations, companies or individuals, such as farmers, in developing countries would provide biocredits through new market institutions set up to issue, register and monitor them. These will need to be established as was similarly done when the system of carbon trading was created.

The baseline of every credit would be verified when it is registered. When sold it would be entered into an official register, monitored and its ownership tracked to maintain compliance and transparency ensuring the area covered was not degraded or destroyed.

For conservation to work, the people living amid and near areas rich in biodiversity need to benefit from its protection. With biocredits, a proportion of the money raised would be channelled to local communities in low- and middle-income tropical countries, where most of the world’s biodiversity is located. This is key to making sure their incomes are protected and local people have an incentive to safeguard biodiversity.

IIED director Andrew Norton said: “Too many plans for saving the rich variety of nature on which we all depend have failed and biodiversity is declining faster than at any other time in human history. Our proposal for biocredits would help reverse this destructive trend and benefit some of the world’s poorest people.

"Any programme for protecting biodiversity must make sure conservation and development work together – this is crucial, particularly as the world lays the foundation for a new chapter in the Convention on Biological Diversity.”

Media enquiries

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Beth Herzfeld, IIED head of media, on +44 (0)7557 658 482 or email beth.herzfeld@iied.org

Notes to editors

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