With China hosting its first ever multilateral environmental summit (CBD COP15), this is an important moment to mark and create space for discussion on how China can engage.
China Dialogue's Isabel Hilton hosted a panel discussion about China's role in advancing finance for biodiversity. Deborah Lehr of the Paulson Institute kicked off, setting the scene on the urgency of finance for biodiversity and China's role domestically and internationally:
"What China does or doesn't do matters, and China is doing a lot"
Kevin Gallagher of Boston University introduced the the work they have done mapping biodiversity risks of China's DFI investment.
Dr. Christoph Nedopil Wang, of the IIGF Green Belt and Road Initiative Center traced the history of green finance in China, starting with clean air, then moving to climate and now to biodiversity. But as with other countries biodiversity risks are still only understood at an industry level, but not yet for a specific investment. In practice, the Belt and Road Initiative remains a biodiversity destroying rather than a biodiversity conserving initiative.
Ma Jun, of IPE stressed the need for data:
If you want a market based solution you need to have data, you need to have dynamic assessment. Financial institutions are demanding this. We have developed a dynamic environmental credit assessment which looks at 3 million emission data points and 0.5 million air and water data points every day
Marianne Haahr of the Green Digital Finance Alliance talked about the potential for fintech to deliver this data and make it usable, starting with forests. China has developed the Business Services Network to facilitate trade via a block chain platform. Marianne outlined how this could be be used to support a green data layer which could geolocate all imported timber to show whether it is from a 'red zone' area of deforestation, linking this to satellite monitoring.
Bernice Lee, of the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy suggested that China could pioneer radical new solutions, particularly in its state owned enterprise sector. She proposed the idea of making 20% of public sector pay into a form of token redeemable only through nature based economy purchases.
Asked about hopes for CBD COP 15: Christoph called for a new deal involving debt for nature swaps, Marianne called for a specific target for biodiversity the financial sector, Bernice argued for public sector financing, and Ma Jun reiterated the need for data; a database of information on biodiversity impacts that can hold business & investors accountable & enable and empower them.