Chevron's recent announcement of its latest foray into wetland banking shows one mechanism, backed by legislation and regulation, that allows a value to be placed on biodiversity in situ that may act as a counter balance to the economic pressures to convert the land or use the resources unsustainably.
How do we make such mechanisms function in emerging markets where legislation and regulation have not yet declared their hand? Increasingly private companies, financiers and governments require offsets as compensation or mitigation for impacts on biodiversity of development activity. But how do these become sustainable over the long term - generating revenues that will support them and the surrounding communities?
The search for market based mechanisms in the absence of regulation and the search for replication are growing in importance. In Curitiba at the recent 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity the question was no longer what is the role of the private sector in advancing the goals of the Convention, but how. And the debate shifted from philanthropy and fundraising to the business of biodiversity. Unsavory to some perhaps, but with private financial flows into developing countries outstripping public aid funds by 5 to 1, finding ways to harness the resources, and the potential for partnerships, is a priority.