IEMA members and other expert stakeholders were joined this morning at an online roundtable by Trudy Harrison MP, Chair of the Environment APPG, to discuss what more is needed to effectively finance biodiversity measures in the UK. In this blog, Ben Goodwin, IEMA’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, reflects on the key talking points.

Restoring and enhancing biodiversity in the UK must be a policy priority given the current direction of travel on the ground.

Recent research conducted by the State of Nature Partnership has shown that the abundance of 753 terrestrial and freshwater species has on average fallen by 19% across the UK since 1970.

Furthermore, the distributions of 54% of flowering plant species have decreased (across Great Britain) during the same time and the abundance of 13 species of seabird has fallen by an average of 24% since 1986.

A key aspect in reversing this decline is ensuring that we have the right enabling conditions in place for investment to flow into nature projects and initiatives.

Our roundtable session kicked off with Trudy setting out some of the measures the Government is currently deploying to get finance into British farming for biodiversity, which is important given the substantial land coverage that farms occupy.

The focus here was on initiatives like ELMs (Environmental Land Management schemes) and the Sustainable Farming Incentive.

The roundtable discussion then moved on to cover several other areas. This included the challenges around the spatial interaction of policies like ELMs and the new biodiversity net gain regime that is being rolled out in England. There was a feeling that this needed to be better managed to enable finance to flow into nature more effectively.

Discussion also touched on getting the right demand drivers in place to facilitate finance and establishing regulatory frameworks that are geared towards enabling long-term investment in nature enhancement. It was suggested that extending the asset management periods across the regulated utilities could be a way of achieving this.

A further area where there seemed to be a real consensus was on the need to develop the pipeline of skills, both on the environmental side and the finance side, to ensure that there is the knowhow in the system to plan, activate and deliver finance for biodiversity.

Although this morning’s roundtable focused on unlocking financing for biodiversity, it is also important to recognise many of the other shifts in policy and thinking that are required to achieve impact.

This includes the need to draw together disparate interventions in areas such as planning reform, business incentivisation and skills provision into a single programme of activity that can meet our commitments to protect 30% of the land and of the sea for nature’s recovery, by 2030 (30by30).

More widely there continues to be a challenge around governance and the strategic disconnect that exists between the policy instruments that have been created by the establishment of the Environment Act.

To deliver nature restoration and the enhancement of the natural environment we need more effective integration of the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan and the other instruments that have been created to assist in this goal including the long-term environmental targets framework and the Environmental Principles Policy Statement.

Over the coming months IEMA will be organising further roundtables with relevant parliamentary figures from across the political spectrum to discuss these issues in more detail. We will also be publishing an update to our 2023 ‘key recommendations for UK policymakers’ in advance of the General Election.

Watch this space.

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, IEMA, IEMA

Ben is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy, practice and public affairs activities across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.


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