Ten initiatives, covering energy efficiency, forestry, eco-tourism and sustainable agriculture, were presented at a fund-raising forum on 12 March for international and private-sector partners. The event was organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) as part of BIOFIN, a global initiative launched in response to the urgent need to channel more funding into biodiversity protection.
“Global disasters such as the pandemic and climate change are the results of human encroachment on nature,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “The BIOFIN initiative helps countries find creative and practical solutions to try to reverse this destruction. The rich catalogue of projects prepared for Georgia will help protect the country’s natural treasures and build a greener and more sustainable economy.”
Georgia is among the first 30 countries to launch a national BIOFIN process aimed at closing funding gaps in biodiversity conservation, mobilizing the resources needed to develop, implementing biodiversity policies, and carrying out practical steps in the energy, agriculture and other sectors.
In 2020, in partnership with MEPA’s Biodiversity and Forestry Department, the National Forestry Agency and the Agency of Protected Areas, UNDP identified over 40 projects to address urgent biodiversity issues, including energy efficiency in the public sector, eco-tourism, forest management, certification for non-timber forest products, and the sustainable management of natural resources in protected areas. The top 10 priority initiatives were selected by MEPA in a consultative process, based on their compliance with national priorities, sustainability, environmental benefits, funding potential, and other criteria.
On March 12, a discussion was organized to present these initiatives to the Government, civil society, environmental experts and potential donors, seeking resources needed for their implementation.
Additionally, the event summarized a five-year collaboration under the BIOFIN project, led by UNDP, in partnership with MEPA and other biodiversity actors in Georgia.
Since the launch of BIOFIN in 2016, Georgia’s state funding allocated for biodiversity conservation has grown 24-fold, from GEL 30,000 to GEL 720,000. UNDP also helped to adopt the national biodiversity finance plan in 2019, develop an ecotourism development plan for the National Forest Agency, design a crowdfunding platform and a fundraising strategy for the Tbilisi Zoo to save endangered species and captive bear cubs, develop biodiversity-related guidelines for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and create a calculation methodology for non-timber forest products.
Based on these achievements, Georgia was recognized as a 2019 champion among BIOFIN countries.