Philippines is among the 17 megadiverse countries with 228 recognised key biodiversity areas home to 855 globally important species of flora and fauna. The benefits and services that biodiversity provides cannot be overemphasised as Filipinos largely depend on it. It is therefore imperative that measures to conserve these are established, and this is what the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) 2015-2028 puts in place. To implement the PBSAP, a PhP 24-B (USD 530 million) is required annually. However, the current level of spending on biodiversity is only at PhP 5B (USD 110 million) per year, which leaves an 80% financing gap. BIOFIN will identify, access, combine and sequence various sources of biodiversity funding to meet national needs and targets.
Prioritised Finance Solutions
Mainstreaming of PBSAP into the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is one of BIOFIN’s priority finance solutions. When PBSAP is successfully mainstreamed into the PDP, it puts the DENR in a strategic position to request budget from our Department of Budget and Management the much needed financing to achieve our biodiversity targets. This supports Sec. 38 of the 2017 General Appropriations Act stating that all government agencies, offices and local government units shall ensure that protection of biological diversity is integrated and mainstreamed into their development programs and projects.
Policy reform is another finance solution that BIOFIN is testing. Recognizing the important role of the Congress or House of Representatives in approving the national government budget and influencing budget priorities of the government, BIOFIN partnered with Cong. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, a staunch biodiversity Champion in the Congress, to develop policy measures for biodiversity conservation and financing. A result of this partnership was the filing of House Bill 4604 in the 17th Congress which aims to tap the Malampaya Fund for biodiversity conservation and renewable energy development. Furthermore, the recently
Localizing the PBSAP is seen as a tool to increase financing for biodiversity conservation at the LGU level. The objective is to develop, adopt, finance and implement a local version of the PBSAP at the provincial level.
Private sector investment in biodiversity conservation is one big opportunity. BIOFIN works closely with the Philippine Business for Environment (PBE), Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF) and Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) in identifying opportunities for private sector investment in biodiversity-friendly enterprises through a Marketplace. These enterprises are innovative biodiversity projects/initiatives that have potential to scale and can deliver social, environmental, and economic performance. Alternatively, research on potential PPP activities and modalities will be undertaken and results will be inputs into proposed policies on PPPs and at the same time, BIOFIN intends to pilot these modalities in selected protected areas. Moreover, BIOFIN is facilitating a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program for two (2) protected areas with TeaM Energy Foundation Inc.
Results of the PIR showed that while Philippines has several laws and policies in place for biodiversity, there is still a need to address those with negative impact and promote those with positive impact on biodiversity conservation and restoration. Resource mobilisation opportunities from selected policies such as the Energy Regulation 1-94 as amended; Malampaya Fund; Motor Vehicle User’s Charge; Mining Taxes & Royalties and Fees from Mining were examined.
From 2008-2013, the baseline financing for biodiversity was estimated at Php 5B (USD 110 million) among national agencies contributing to the 20 Aichi Targets, non-core agencies, and local governments. This represents 0.08% of GDP and 0.31% of the national budget for this period of analysis. Within this period, the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was observed to be increasing at the rate of 23% per year. The biodiversity budget has been increasing at a faster rate of 34% per year for the same period, although its contribution to total budget is less than 20% of the total. Increase in funding can be realised by realignment of budgets coupled with effective mainstreaming among core and non-core biodiversity agencies. Comprising an average of 4% of the 20% development fund representing share of national taxes, local governments contribute Php 0.5B (USD 13 million) based on protected areas expenditures alone.
The total estimated cost of implementing the PBSAP from 2015-2028 ranged from PhP334 billion or USD 7.4 billion (low) to PhP388 billion or USD 8.6 billion (high) with an annual requirement of Php 23.9 billion (USD 530 million). The projected appropriations of the government agencies for this period is only USD 1.5 billion versus the USD 4 billion estimated cost of activities identified in the PBSAP.
BIOFIN’s Finance Plan is targeting to raise PhP20 billion by 2020 by implementing the following solutions: a) consolidation, mainstreaming, and formalising the PPBER process through biodiversity tagging; b) increasing funding of local governments through realignment, increased access to earmark funds, or generation of revenues on site; and c) private sector engagement.
To implement the BFP, BIOFIN Philippines is currently piloting the following finance solutions: Mainstreaming of the PBSAP into national and local plans; Realignment of national budget to biodiversity conservation through biodiversity expense tagging; mobilising private sector engagement; policy reforms; improving access to earmarked funds; localising the PBSAP; and through testing the feasibility of new and old finance mechanisms. On mainstreaming, BIOFIN, along with the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the DENR, has been successful in integrating the PBSAP targets into Chapter 20 (Ecological Integrity) of the PDP 2017-2022, which was formally approved and adopted in February 2017.