National Conference on Engaging the Public and Private Sectors on Ecosystem Development and PaymentSep 27, 2017
Remarks by Louise Chamberlain
Your Excellency, Dr. Gemedo Dalle, Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change;
Excellencies members of parliament,
Senior Government officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
⦁ Good morning to you all. I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of UNDP on the theme of this event “Engaging the Public and Private Sectors on Ecosystem Development and Payment”.
⦁ It’s a pleasure to see so many experts in the room today, this is a topic that engages many and we appreciate the effort you have made to come this long way. Very good to have also representation from private sector; your views and suggestions will be particularly important in today’s discussion.
⦁ I hope we will have a fruitful and inspiring conversation and there are several good reasons for holding this discussion here:
⦁ I have learned that Arba Minch means “Forty springs” and – we hope that today’s event will help at least 40 new ideas “spring up” on how Ethiopia’s private sector can become a powerful factor for biodiversity conservation;
⦁ It is a lovely setting and our view over the forest, lake and mountain gives us all a clear reminder of the value that we are collectively tasked with preserving.
⦁ In fact this ecolodge is one of the business establishments that came about with the attraction of promoting tourim to the area;
⦁ The site of Kulfo being one of the major project site for the project partnership between the Government and UNDP with GEF funding on Mainstreaming Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
⦁ The conservation of natural resources, and ensuring that the benefits and services of the ecosystem are appropriately recognized and valued, that responsibility is upon all of us; as conservationists, as government, as tourists, as farmers, as investors, and as development professionals.
⦁ What is missing today, in order to protect Ethiopia’s immense ecological diversity, is the institutional framework that distributes the burden on investment and financing to those who are using and drawing values from the ecosystem. By institution I don’t mean offices or authorities, but the basic mechanism that enables regular funds collection, transfer and distribution in a way that is fair and acceptable, and helps to achieve the objectives of protecting biodiversity and strengthening conservation activities.
Ladies and Gentlemen
⦁ The natural habitat is threatened by factors such as population pressure, expansion of agricultural land, overgrazing, invasion of alien species, overuse of natural resources, climate change and natural disasters. Addressing these threats requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders working together and forming a partnership between the public and private sector.
⦁ The government of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia has taken steps to sustainable development through the adoption of key policies and strategies within the Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy; the Growth and Transformation Plan; the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, among them.
⦁ Realizing the intent of these policies requires strategic and scaled up investment; not necessarily the kind of large-scale funding we associate with infrastructure, but deliberate and targeted financing, and many partners coming together in the same direction. This is where private sector also can play a major role.
⦁ The Public Expenditure Review financed by the UNDP/GEF showed that public expenditure has been about 1.3 percent of GDP during 2002-2015. This is a significant amount but small compared to what is needed
⦁ Another UNDP-supported study on “the Economic Value of Ethiopia’s Protected Areas“ valued the ecosystem services including watershed protection, water provision, carbon sequestration, grazing, harvesting of natural products, medicinal plants, pollination and pest control, tourism , recreation, cultural and existence valued at 6.5 billion Ethiopian Birr per year or 325 million US dollars per year.
⦁ In other words, these values are being consumed, but not paid for today. People and the economy are using these services of nature, but not paying for them; what is worse is also that where there is unsustainable consumption, there is also degradation and depletion – basically investing in conservation is critical to ensure that natural resources are regenerated and maintained for future generations. As a society, we need to do better than allowing nature to be consumed in the pursuit of economic growth; this is why the government has set an ambitious agenda to pursue green growth instead – one where resources are preserved and protected.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
⦁ One number that I find mind-boggling is the benefit-cost ratio of investing in ecosystem services. The UNDP study found that for every dollar or birr invested, you generate between six and seven-and-a-half in return. This is better than the guaranteed return on investment in many productive sectors of the economy and should serve as a huge incentive for local investors in Ethiopia, helping to grow both economy and ecology.
⦁ It is a massive economic potential and argument for investing in conservation efforts, and attractive investment opportunity for the private sector.
⦁ However, the private sector involvement in ecosystem conservation and development is very limited today, and we are very interested to hear today how we can stimulate growth in private sector investment and generate or attract enterprises that can help ecosystems to flourish.
⦁ The private sector is a potential source of the expertise, efficiency and capital needed to improve and expand a range of products and services. This will in turn provides millions of jobs and supports thousands of local communities.
⦁ Payment for Ecosystem services is so much more than an environmental tax or levy. It is about investment in conservation and protection instead of allowing for degradation and extinction. This is what inspired the conservation of Kulfo forest and will inspire us all to do more.
Your Excellency, Minister
⦁ Thank you for inviting me here today to address you and the audience on this important topic. UNDP is a partner in this endeavor to promote sustainable development and inclusive growth; this is a core part of our mission as the UN’s development agency. We also have a long-standing partnership with the Government of Ethiopia and have supported biodiversity conservation efforts here for more than a decade; we bring technical expertise and international resources to address complex development challenges.
⦁ Let me end by expressing my hope that today’s workshop will generate concrete directions for ways to increase and sustain private financing and investment in activities that support conservation and sustainable use of Ethiopia’s amazingly diverse ecosystem. Scaling up such investment will be a key contribution to Ethiopia meeting its vision to become a middle income country by 2025.