How a Dalberg-led initiative is launching the first Biodiversity Project Accelerator in Africa

Devang Vussonji

Given the intricacies associated with biodiversity and ecosystems, successful funding for interventions requires a comprehensive approach. That’s where Biodiversity Investments—Researcher & Accelerator (BIRA) comes in. Hosted by the African Leadership University and co-funded by Dalberg and FSD Africa, BIRA aims to enhance biodiversity measurement and cultivate a robust pipeline of investment opportunities in Africa. BIRA is currently soliciting applications for its first Biodiversity Project Accelerator in Africa, which will support high-quality biodiversity projects to become investor-ready.

In the face of climate change, biodiversity stands as our most potent natural defense. Paradoxically, biodiversity loss ranks as the third most significant global risk today, primarily due to the adverse effects of human activities. This intricate web of interdependence between biodiversity and climate change underscores the urgent need to address the issue comprehensively. Yet, the complexity of biodiversity and ecosystems exceeds that of other environmental factors like carbon, making it challenging to quantify their preservation’s outcomes. 

Biodiversity Investments—Researcher & Accelerator (BIRA) is a groundbreaking attempt to address this challenge. Dalberg has joined forces with FSD Africa Investments, African Leadership University School of Wildlife Conservation, CreditNature, and Xilva to develop a credible approach to accelerating biodiversity and ecosystem measurements as a core offering for investable Nature Based Solution projects. Reliable measurement frameworks can facilitate the positioning of biodiversity as an economic opportunity and add credibility to carbon measurements. So how might we bridge the gap between conservation and investment?

The Complexity of Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity and the ecosystem services are fundamental resources and not by-products to be minimized or offset, such as carbon. Moreover, biodiverse ecosystems are not interchangeable with one another.

Each distinct ecosystem possesses unique characteristics and functions, and their impacts cannot be easily substituted or traded.  

Existing measurement frameworks further complicate matters. They lack standardization and are highly technical, leading to reduced credibility, applicability, and usability, and come with high costs. The absence of a clear and consistent measurement methodology makes securing funding for biodiversity conservation a formidable challenge.

A Solution Tailored to Emerging Markets

To win the trust of investors, emerging frameworks must cater to the specific needs of emerging markets such as Africa. The African Leadership University will ensure that the methodology is relevant to the Global South and iterate on it through on-the-ground testing. BIRA will prioritize investor metrics, ensuring that the framework is user-friendly. Leveraging technology, BIRA aims to complement site-specific measurements, thereby reducing costs and bolstering credibility.

Transforming Biodiversity Investments in Africa

A standardized approach to biodiversity and ecosystem measurement that addresses existing challenges would support the scaling needed to maintain, restore, and improve biodiversity. In addition, BIRA aims to bring high-quality African investments to market through fundraising for a biodiversity accelerator. Grants will be utilized to identify and support organizations providing comprehensive assessments and monitoring systems to understand the environmental impact of pipeline companies. Further, BIRA will engage investors through the grant which will be used to co-develop financing propositions and facilitate investment memoranda and marketing to promote credits. Through such a structured approach, the funding can prepare project developers to be investor ready whilst developing a pipeline of biodiversity deals in Africa and attract investors to the sector. 

The world is in the midst of the triple planetary crisis, of climate change, biodiversity loss, and socioeconomic challenges. For a viable future on this planet, innovative solutions are imperative. These must be driven by credible sources and high-quality investments rooted in the socioeconomic needs and realities of affected populations. BIRA’s holistic approach is a step in this direction. It addresses the complexities of biodiversity and offers a path forward by integrating measurement credibility, investor engagement, and project acceleration. 

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