UNDP launches new guide to address cost-effectiveness in public funding for biodiversity conservation

Feb 12, 2016

National Park Cerro Campana, Panama. Photo: Marta Ortega Baldonedo / UNDP

February, 2016 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released a new tool for governments to boost cost-effective budgets to protect biodiversity. TheGuide to Improving the Budget and Funding of National Protected Area Systems, gathers the best experiences and lessons learned from a 2-year initiative on how to improve phases of Protected Areas Systems (PAS), including effective budgeting, results-based performance indicators for conservation, cost-effectiveness and economic impact.

The launch of the guide took place during the UNDP-backed BIOFIN-Financing for Biodiversity conference in Santiago, Chile (25-27 January), which gathered over 40 representatives from 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and also from Africa, Asia, Pacific, and Central and Eastern Europe.

“This new guide shows that taking care of biodiversity finance needs a holistic view—in terms of policy making and in terms of budgetary planning,” said Marlon Flores, Senior Technical Advisor of BIOFIN in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We hope that this tool will be helpful as governments start implementing the new Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, including its 17 Sustainable Development Goals; budget planning should be able to reflect that the social, environmental and economic realms are interconnected.”

The new tool stems from over one decade of support to national and local governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, strengthening the financial sustainability of PAS, prioritizing funding through central budgets. Upon governments’ requests, UNDP implemented the Protected Areas Budget Negotiation Support Project, between July 2012 and April 2014, with the financial support of the Moore Foundation and the Government of Spain.

The project examined the four phases of the budget cycle: formulation, negotiation, approval and execution, in the three countries in the region Chile, Guatemala and Peru. The analysis revealed weaknesses in each phase of the PAS budgeting cycle, partially as a result of major disconnects between each phase. The new guide and lessons learned reveal that the most important shortfalls often result from protected area budgets not being oriented by key decision-makers, often, the Ministry of Finance.

Another key lesson is that PAS budgets lack supporting data and result-based indicators on conservation results, costs-effectiveness, and economic impact. In addition, managers tend to provide limited inputs in preparing PAS budgets, which often fail to meet their nation’s budgetary deadlines, forcing decision-makers to fall back on previous years’ budgets.

It is expected that this new tool will contribute to bridging the gap between conservation planners and those in charge of government budgeting in order to produce more cost-effective and viable budgets. Treasuries of the target countries have already noted that PAS’ budgets submitted without addressing cost-effectiveness “dead on arrival”.

International development agencies interested in PAS financing that traditionally focus on supporting the establishment of financial mechanisms (such as endow­ment funds, payments for environmental services, and other market and non-market rev­enue mechanisms) could shift part of their efforts to sup­porting PAS agencies in improving the formulation and execution of their annual public budgets, helping ensure long-term financial sustainability.

Contact information

Marta Ortega Baldonedo - marta.ortega.baldonedo@undp.org
Strategic Planning and Communications
UNDP Regional Hub for Latin America and the Caribbean

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