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The effectiveness of national biodiversity investments to protect the wealth of nature


Finance will be among the priority concerns when the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity launches the post-2020 framework for global biodiversity conservation (Global Biodiversity Framework) in 2021. The Biodiversity Finance Initiative provides a means for countries to account systematically for their biodiversity expenditures. A sample of 30 countries facilitated the construction of a panel to better understand the effectiveness of public biodiversity investments. Overall, the results show a positive trend in national public biodiversity investments and that larger economies invest more in biodiversity in gross magnitude and as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) (0.30% of GDP among wealthy countries versus 0.29%) and of national budgets (1.78% versus 1.14%). Controlling for GDP, wealthier countries invest proportionately less than less wealthy countries. The relationship between GDP and public biodiversity expenditure is an inverted-U curve. All biodiversity-related variables (threatened species, protected area and the presence of a hotspot) were positively correlated with public biodiversity investments. Funds allocated to biodiversity are associated with a reduction in the number of threatened species and the rate of biodiversity loss of about 1% per year. Each US$1 billion investment in biodiversity is associated with an annual reduction in the proportion of threatened to total species of about 0.57%. Population growth is associated with lower financial support for biodiversity and an increase in the proportion of threatened to total species in a country.

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Fig. 1: Public biodiversity expenditure as a proportion of budget and of GDP trends.
Fig. 2: Trends in total species, threatened and the ratio of threatened to total species.

Data availability

The secondary datasets of public data compiled and generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in Supplementary Data 1. The primary country expenditure data compiled and analysed during the current study are not available due to standard survey research protocols protecting individual respondents but will be made available to check or replicate our results from the corresponding author under conditions that individual country responses are not divulged.


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We thank the BIOFIN country and global team members, past, present and future, for contributing to the evolution of the BIOFIN methodology. We thank our partners for their support to BIOFIN: The European Union, the Governments of Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Flanders and Sweden. We acknowledge the following individuals for their guidance, feedback and research assistance: A. Dinu, J. Alvsilver, H. Barois, M. Bellot, K. Bhattacharyya, T. Cumming, I. Dickie, J. Ervin, B. Gjeka, J. Maiden, D. Meyers, M. Paxton, N. Sekhran and A. Trinidad. We would also like to thank the numerous country teams, experts and governments who generated the national-level Biodiversity Expenditure Reviews. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or the UN Member States.

Author information




A.S., M.A., O.v.d.H. and M.R. developed the data collection method. A.S., K.M., M.A. and O.v.d.H. took part in data collection. A.S., K.M. and M.A. interpreted the models. K.M. undertook data synthesis and econometric modelling. M.A., K.M., O.v.d.H. and M.R. wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew Seidl.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature Ecology & Evolution thanks Robert Costanza, Diana Weinhold and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Real public biodiversity expenditure and trends among sampled countries (n = 30).

Public biodiversity expenditure (in 2020 million USD), Public biodiversity expenditure as % of GDP.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Table 1.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Data 1

All secondary data used in the models.

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Seidl, A., Mulungu, K., Arlaud, M. et al. The effectiveness of national biodiversity investments to protect the wealth of nature. Nat Ecol Evol 5, 530–539 (2021).

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