Topical themes in biodiversity financing

Anyango-van Zwieten, Nowella


One of the often-cited challenges in biodiversity conservation is financing. But publications on financing are mostly confined to specific financial mechanisms, regions and actors. Fewer attempts have been made to find overall trends. Through a thematic review of 64 peer-reviewed articles, covering different disciplines and published since 2010, this study found three dominant themes recurring around the topic of biodiversity financing: underfunding, inefficient funding distribution and the pursuit for innovative financial mechanisms. Estimates of the funding gap are much higher than previously calculated and continuously increasing given the acceleration of new threats. Proposals for better targeting of available finances advocate for the use of priority protocols focussed on objectivity and efficiency. However, in practice funding allocation does not seem to follow objective indicators and remains quite inconsistent with conservation needs. This analysis shows that at the core of innovative financial mechanisms are new strategic networks between governments, civil society and businesses. Understanding these new networks is crucial for better capturing the patterns of pooling, mixing and directing financial flows, and the subsequent implications for policy and prioritization criteria. This paper argues that theories focusing on networks and flows could present a useful perspective for future studies on biodiversity financing.