Biorights in Theory and Practice: A financing mechanism for linking poverty alleviation and environmental conservation

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Bio-rights is an innovative financing mechanism for reconciling poverty alleviation and environmental conservation. By providing micro-credits for sustainable development, the approach enables local communities to refrain from unsustainable practices and be actively involved in environmental conservation and restoration. Micro-credits are converted into definitive payments upon successful delivery of conservation services at the end of a contracting period.

Integrating market-driven instruments and more traditional conservation and development measures, Biorights offers a novel approach in which global stakeholders pay local communities to provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, fresh water supply and biodiversity.

Thus, the approach unites the conservation and development aspirations of NGOs, governments, the private sector and local communities alike. Projects in the field have demonstrated that Bio-rights can serve as a powerful tool that addresses the major environmental challenges of our age, including climate change and biodiversity loss. In the light of major efforts in relation to REDD development and the Millennium Development Goals, Bio-rights has the potential to translate global objectives into concrete action.

Rationale and theory

This report describes the rationale and theory behind Bio-rights and offers extensive guidance for implementing Bio-rights in the field. A detailed step-by-step description of activities indicates what needs to be done to successfully initiate and manage a project. A number of detailed case descriptions from Indonesia and Mali illustrate how these steps have been implemented in practice and the results that have been accomplished to date.

The report is targeted at conservation and development practitioners interested in incorporating the approach into their work. It also aims to provide policymakers, donors and private-sector stakeholders interested in financing approaches with insights into the theory behind the approach as well as an overview of experiences from the field.

Author(s): Pieter van Eijk and Ritesh Kumar