Regional Forum Innovation, Inclusiveness and Impact: Strengthening and Diversifying Financing for Protected Areas

Oct 10, 2017

Yang Berhormat Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah bin Ali Hassan, Deputy Chief Minister, Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development; and
Second Minister of Urban Development & Natural Resources,

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Abdul Kadir bin Abu Hashim, Director General, Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia,

Yang Berbahagia Tuan Haji Sapuan Ahmad, Director, Forest Department Sarawak

Senior officials and representatives from government agencies, academia, civil society and private sector

Distinguished guests, moderators and speakers,

A very good morning to all of you.

I am very pleased to join you at the opening of the Regional Forum on Innovation, Inclusiveness and Impact: Strengthening and Diversifying Financing for Protected Areas in Kuching, Sarawak.

And I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Sarawak State Government and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia for co-hosting this important forum, and for its strong partnership with UNDP.

Global Scene on Biodiversity and Protected Area

The continuing destruction of nature and loss of biological diversity have reached alarming proportions. According to a recent publication that looks at different dimensions of environmental degradation at global scale, in four out of nine environmental dimensions the planetary boundaries have been surpassed as a result of human activities – economic growth, technology, unsustainable production and consumption. They are 1) the extinction rate of species of flora and fauna; 2) deforestation, 3) the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and hence climate change; and 4) the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous (used on land as fertilizer) into oceans.

This is also the reason why environmental sustainability, with 7 out of 17 goals, is more prominently than ever before reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In particular, the loss of biodiversity we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate and it’s happening in the short span of the past 20 years. The world lost over 100 million hectares of forest from 2000 to 2005, and has lost 20 per cent of its seagrass and mangrove habitats since 1970 and 1980 respectively. In some regions, 95 per cent of wetlands have been lost. Coastal and marine ecosystems have been heavily impacted by human activities, with degradation leading to a reduced coverage of sea grasses and coral reefs by 38 per cent since 1980. Two-thirds of the world’s largest rivers are now moderately to severely fragmented by dams and reservoirs.

This biodiversity loss is currently costing at least US$ 740 billion annually in lost ecosystem services that are vital to our economies and our well-being.[1] Protected area is the key to conserving biodiversity and the services it provide us – food, clean water supply, medicinal substances and protection from the impacts of natural disasters. One widely-cited estimate suggests that up to US$ 45 billion per year over the course of 30 years may be required to secure an expanded network of protected areas, covering 15% of terrestrial and 30% of marine ecosystems, mainly in the tropics.[2] Another, more modest estimate suggests that the additional funding required to expand and manage effective PA systems in developing countries amounts to about US$ 12–13 billion per year.[3]

While it is useful to capture the costs in figures, let us also not forget that much of the beauty of this world – its colours, its tastes, its smells, the relaxation value of a healthy forest – are related to biodiversity.

On a macro level if there is no concerted effort, we are in danger of missing Goal 14 and 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

There is therefore an urgent need, at all levels, for alignment between the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and national and sub-national policy agendas, to ensure more efficient use of public budgets, together with the development of innovative financial instruments and incentives. Much can be gained by phasing-out reverse incentives and unsustainable practices, the development of green fiscal policies, and sector integration.

Protected Area – An Investment for Our Present and Future

Malaysia is a country renowned for its rich and diverse biodiversity and ecosystems. Indeed, national parks and the wildlife they host are the backbone of a tourism industry that accounts for USD 19.5 billion (MYR 82.1 billion) receipts in 2016. Tourism spurs investment and business in other sectors. It’s becoming a rapidly growing sector particularly the nature-based tourism. However, the natural assets that generate vital revenue face a range of threats such as encroachment, poaching, illegal wildlife trade, etc. Other threats, however, could be readily addressed if the true worth of protected areas were understood. 

This illustrates a story that we hear all over the globe.  The true value of protected areas, for now and tomorrow, is rarely taken into full consideration. Decisions are made without fully understanding the trade-offs, without identifying win-win options that would so readily deliver multiple benefits. In fact, poor management of resources limits development opportunities, generating cascades of social, environmental and economic externalities. Perversely, the very assets that would lead to long-term collective well-being are eroded as a result of investments that focus on short-term gains of a few and fail to appreciate that environment is actually a core part of the development equation.

UNDP, consistent with our mission, believes that finance for protected area is a long-term investment for our present and future development gains. What we aim to achieve from this Forum is that countries are better equipped with strong evidence and the business case to prioritize and scale up existing financial resources from public, private, national and international sources to implement robust and concrete actions in biodiversity conservation and protection through effective management of protected areas, which, in turn, can make a significant contribution to sustainability as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNDP as Development Partner and Solution Provider in Protected Area Finance

With our experience in working with over 170 developing countries around the world, UNDP remains a trusted partner to Governments and civil societies. We stand ready to enhance our support and collaboration in the efforts to achieve sustainable and equitable progress in protected area management through support for policy development and the strengthening of institutions.

It is with this in mind that UNDP launched BIOFIN in 2012.  BIOFIN is a global partnership, seeking to address the biodiversity finance challenge in a comprehensive, country-driven manner. BIOFIN focused on two levels: firstly, the development during 2013 of a new bottom-up methodological framework at global level; and secondly, the recently started implementation of this methodological framework at national level. Implementation of the framework means the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in sectoral and development policy, planning and budgeting; assessing future financing flows, and needs and gaps for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services; and developing comprehensive national Resource Mobilization Strategies to meet the biodiversity finance gap.

As of 2017 work is ongoing in collaboration with Ministries of Finance, Economics or Planning and Ministries of Environment in 31 countries. BIOFIN is financed by the European Union and the Governments of Germany, Switzerland and Norway – in addition to co-financing from the Global Environment Facility.

The new UNDP Strategic Plan for 2018 – 2021 has identified nature-based solutions for a sustainable planet as one of our six core workstreams.

UNDP will apply integrated actions to address biodiversity conservation, tackling market, policy and governance failures that lead to ecosystem degradation. Furthermore, addressing finance with a clear understanding of the differentiated impacts, access and contributions of women and men and also of indigenous communities will be critical.


In closing, let me emphasize again that this Regional Forum is about “scanning globally to better act locally”. It is an excellent platform to connect policy-makers from environment to development and financial planning with practitioners on the ground, and to exchange views on the effective financial solutions for protected areas. With the diversity of experiences and knowledge amongst us gathered today, I am confident new and innovative solutions for a sustainable future will be identified.


Thank you



[1] Parker, C., Cranford, M., Oakes, N., Leggett, M. ed., 2012. The Little Biodiversity Finance Book, Global Canopy Programme; Oxford.



[2] Balmford, A., Bruner, A., Cooper, P., Costanza, R., Farber, S., Green, R.E., Jenkins, M., Jefferiss, P., Jessamy, V., Madden, J., Munro, K., Myers, N., Naeem, S., Paavola, J., Rayment, M., Rosendo, S., Roughgarden, J., Trumper, K. and Turner, R.K. 2002. Economic Reasons for Conserving Wild Nature. Science 297: 950–953 (9 August).



[3] Bruner, A., Hanks, J. and Hannah, L. 2003. How Much Will Effective Protected Area Systems Cost? Presentation to the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress, 8–17 September: Durban, South Africa.



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