Two years after setting targets in Aichi, Japan, for saving global biodiversity, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity has struck its first deal on how to pay for the goals. At a meeting in Hyderabad, India, rich nations agreed to double their aid to developing nations by 2015, a move welcomed by conservation organizations. "This will give the Aichi Biodiversity Targets the necessary push," said Carolina Hazin, BirdLife's global biodiversity policy coordinator in a statement.
But the new amount of aid—$10 billion a year—falls far short of the order of magnitude increase in total funding scientists say is required to do the job. "The deal reached on financing … is a disappointing result, because it is not nearly enough money to reach the ambitious targets to protect biodiversity," said Lasse Gustavsson, WWF International's executive director of conservation in a statement.
Several developing nations also pledged to boost their own biodiversity spending, including $50 million from India. "The fact that India made a financial commitment at national and international level sets a precedent for other emerging economies to offer more support to global biodiversity conservation," Gustavsson said.
Update, 26 October at 12:00 p.m.: This update puts the $10 billion pledge into better context, thanks to two of the authors of a recent analysis of biodiversity funding. They looked at two of the 20 biodiversity targets: preventing extinction and improving the status of declining species, and protecting important habitat. They found an annual $20 billion shortfall of aid from developed to lower income countries by the 2020 deadline for the two targets. (The global price tag is $76 billion a year.) The pledged funds will most likely be spread across many or all of the 20 targets.
"The Hyderabad news sounds potentially very exciting," says Andrew Balmford of the University of Cambridge. "More funding will be needed, but the key is to remember this is not a net cost but an investment in a sustainable future."