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E2. Expenditure on UK and international biodiversity

a. Public sector expenditure on UK biodiversity

b. Non-governmental organisation expenditure on UK biodiversity

c. UK public sector expenditure on international biodiversity

Type: Response Indicator

This indicator was updated in 2023.

Introduction

The first part of this indicator provides real-term, public sector spending on biodiversity in the UK alongside spending by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with a focus on biodiversity and/or nature conservation. Spending is just one way of assessing the government’s commitment to biodiversity.

The second part of this indicator provides real-term UK public sector spending on global biodiversity. Funding for international biodiversity is essential for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in developing countries, along with other international biodiversity policy commitments.

All total expenditure figures in this indicator are presented as financial year data and 2021/2022, for example, refers to the period April 2021 to March 2022.

Key results

In 2021/2022, £729 million of UK public sector funding was allocated to biodiversity in the UK. This figure equates to real-term increases of 138% since the time series began in 2000/2001 and 18% in the latest year for which data have been compiled, and a real-term increase of 21% over the last five years (Figure E2i).

Since 2000/2001, public sector funding for UK biodiversity relative to gross domestic product (GDP) has fluctuated between 0.018% and 0.037%. In 2021/2022, it amounted to 0.031% of UK GDP.

Spending on biodiversity in the UK by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with a focus on biodiversity and/or nature conservation was £307 million (net of government funding) in 2021/2022. This figure represents a real-term increase of 47% since the time series began in 2010/2011, and real-term increases of 16% over the last five years and 27% in the latest year for which data have been compiled.

Figure E2i. Expenditure on biodiversity in the UK, 2000/2001 to 2021/2022

ukbi-2023-e2i.jpg

Notes about Figure E2i:

  1. Data are adjusted for the effects of inflation using the UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) deflator. Data presented here are not directly comparable to those in previous publications because a new deflator is used to prepare each annual update.
  2. Wherever possible, NGO spend is net of government funding.
  3. There may be some inconsistencies in the reporting of expenditure on UK biodiversity from one year to the next (see background section for further details).
  4. Revisions to past data series resulting from improved methodology or access to additional data can mean the chart (and figures) are not directly comparable to those presented in previous publications.

Source: Defra; HM Treasury.

In 2021/2022, UK public sector funding for international biodiversity totalled £225 million. This figure equates to a real-term increase of 132% since the time series began in 2001/2002 and real-term increases of 20% over the last five years and 28% in the latest year for which data have been compiled (Figure E2ii). Annual changes in this measure are influenced greatly by the irregular nature of (i) contributions to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and (ii) other Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding.

Figure E2ii. UK public sector expenditure on international biodiversity, 2001/2002 to 2021/2022

ukbi-2023-e2ii.jpg

Notes about Figure E2ii:

  1. Data are adjusted for the effects of inflation using the UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) deflator. Data presented here are not directly comparable to those in previous publications because a new deflator is used to prepare each annual update.
  2. There may be some inconsistencies in the reporting of expenditure on international biodiversity from one year to the next (see background section for further details).
  3. The large fluctuations between years are mostly due to the irregular nature of (i) contributions to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and (ii) other Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding.
  4. The step change in 2014/2015 is due to increased ODA funding for biodiversity related projects.
  5. GEF and other ODA expenditure are reported by calendar year; they have been allocated to the financial year beginning in each relevant calendar year, for example, 2020 data are included in 2020/2021.
  6. Revisions to past data series resulting from improved methodology or access to additional data can mean the chart (and figures) are not directly comparable to those presented in previous publications.

Source: Defra; HM Treasury.

Assessment of change in public expenditure on biodiversity

  Long term Short term Latest year
Public sector expenditure on
biodiversity in the UK

Improving

2000/01–2021/22

Improving

2016/17–2021/22

Increased

(2021/22)

Non-governmental organisation
spending on biodiversity in the UK

Improving

2010/11–2021/22

Improving

2016/17–2021/22

Increased

(2021/22)

UK public sector expenditure
on international biodiversity

Improving

2001/02–2021/22

Improving

2016/17–2021/22

Increased

(2021/22)

Notes for Assessment of Change table:

The long-term and short-term assessment of these measures is based on a 3% rule of thumb. The base years for these assessments use a three-year average. See Assessing Indicators.

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Indicator description

Public sector spending on UK biodiversity increased from £306 million in 2000/2001 to a peak of £757 million in 2013/2014 (in 2021/2022 prices) (Figure E2i). The figure then fell over the next four years to a low of £518 million before increasing again to £729 million in 2021/2022 real-term prices. This latest figure is 41% higher than it was in 2017/2018 and more than twice the level of spending in 2000/2001 when the time series began.

Funding made available to farmers and land managers under agri-environment schemes account for 52% in 2021/2022 of annual public sector spending on biodiversity in the UK and in 2021/2022, total expenditure apportioned to this indicator under these schemes increased by £21 million. This increase reflects the increases seen in the number of agreements and area of land under agri-environmental schemes.

The remainder of the observed increase in this year’s indicator is largely due to increased contributions from the Forestry Commission. The Forestry Commission’s expenditure on biodiversity accounted for 20% of annual public sector spending on biodiversity in the UK, and in 2021/2022, total expenditure increased by £21 million.

Public sector funding for UK biodiversity relative to GDP has followed a very similar pattern to that of total public sector expenditure. The measure peaked first in 2008/2009 when approximately £3.74 was spent on biodiversity for every £10,000 of GDP and then again, although at a slightly lower level, in 2013/2014 when approximately £3.60 was spent on biodiversity for every £10,000 of GDP (both in 2021/2022 prices) (Figure E2i). This figure has now fallen to approximately £3.12 per £10,000 of GDP in the latest year of reporting (2021/2022) but it remains above the £1.75 per £10,000 figure reported for 2000/2001 when the time series began.

The observed increase in NGO spend on UK biodiversity in 2021/2022 is largely due to increases in expenditure by The National Trust and The Woodland Trust. Both organisations increased real-term expenditure in 2021/2022 due to a loosening of government guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic. For The National Trust, real-term expenditure apportioned to this indicator increased by almost 87% (£20 million) in 2021/2022. And for The Woodland Trust, they also reported an increase in their real-term expenditure of 29% (£12 million) in 2021/2022.

Overall, UK public sector funding for international biodiversity has increased from £97 million in 2001/2002 to £225 million in 2021/2022; a real-term increase of 132% (Figure E2ii). The most prominent rise was during 2014/2015 when the indicator doubled in value from £108 million to £218 million (2021/2022 prices). This was due to a large increase in ODA funding to developing countries and multilateral organisations for forestry related projects. Peaks in the measure observed in 2011/2012 and 2017/2018 and the trough observed in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 were again due to large changes in this ODA funding stream. The irregular timing of large contributions to the GEF, a multilateral trust fund that supports a wide range of projects in developing countries also adds to the annual fluctuations in this indicator. These projects cover a diverse range of themes that include biodiversity, climate change, chemicals and waste, land, international waters, and sustainable forest management.

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Relevance

Spending is just one way of assessing the priority that is given to biodiversity within government. Funding for conservation work is critical to delivery of country biodiversity and environment strategies. Adequate access to resources is essential for the effective implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in developing countries, along with other international biodiversity policy commitments, as part of more general development aid and poverty alleviation.

The changes in public sector expenditure in the UK should be considered in the context of the funding needed, in tandem with appropriate policy and legislative measures, to a level sufficient to meet UK and international biodiversity targets.

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Background

The public sector expenditure indicator is based on a combination of expert opinion together with published and unpublished data from organisations across the UK. The data are collated by Defra statisticians to provide estimates of spending on biodiversity in the UK between 2000/2001 and 2021/2022 and on biodiversity abroad between 2001/2002 and 2021/2022.

In 2019, the coverage of the international measure was extended to include a wider range of ODA projects. The additional data were only available from 2001/2002 and therefore, the time series was shortened to ensure consistent presentation across all remaining years. At the time of the 2019 update, the inclusion of these ODA data resulted in additional annual expenditure of between £14 million and £146 million across the time series (in 2017/2018 prices).

In 2014, Defra developed a measure of spend on UK biodiversity by NGOs with a focus on biodiversity and/or nature conservation. Although the measure does not include all the NGOs working in this field, it does compile data on biodiversity spending from 41 different organisations. These include 13 of the 47 Wildlife Trusts with the largest annual turnover, together with other well-known organisations such as RSPB, the Woodland Trust and WWF-UK. The data are used to provide estimates of spending on biodiversity in the UK between 2010/2011 and 2021/2022; wherever possible these figures are net of any government-funded spend.

NGO support for, and action on biodiversity, some of which is funded by businesses and private individuals, is an important contribution to achieving biodiversity targets. Therefore, capturing the contribution of NGOs is a key element of tracking the UK’s conservation efforts and including this source of expenditure gives a more complete picture of biodiversity expenditure in the UK. It is not currently possible to disaggregate this measure to country level or to reliably report NGO spending on international biodiversity.

The public sector and NGO indicators include direct expenditure on nature reserves and conservation measures together with spending on relevant research and development; they generally exclude expenditure on administration and training. Where possible, indirect expenditure (e.g. transfers to other organisations) has also been excluded from the indicator in order to avoid any double counting of financial flows. Judgment has been employed to finalise some components of the totals and the figures should be taken as approximate.

Restructuring of government departments, changes to funding streams and/or projects and the outsourcing of work relating to biodiversity (e.g. research and development) mean that there may be some inconsistencies in the reporting of biodiversity expenditure from one year to the next. The limited coverage of the NGO indicator together with the complexities involved in both defining and identifying expenditure on biodiversity also mean that the public sector and NGO figures are likely to be an underestimation; they do however provide a clear trend of biodiversity expenditure since the beginning of 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 (UK public sector domestic and international spend) and 2010/2011 (NGOs). It is hoped that further development work will lead to improvements in the overall accuracy of future publications.

A full list of public sector and non-governmental organisations included in this indicator together with further details of the methodology used to produce the totals are available in the technical background document.

The GDP deflator is a measure of general inflation in the domestic economy – it captures the price changes over time. The deflator is expressed in terms of an index number. It is used here to convert historic prices into constant, 2021/2022 prices, thereby allowing meaningful comparisons to be made between biodiversity expenditure in different years. It does however mean that data presented here are not directly comparable to those in previous publications because a new deflator is used to prepare each annual update.

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Goals and Targets

The UK and England Biodiversity Indicators are currently being assessed alongside the Environment Improvement Plan Targets, and the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Targets, when this work has been completed the references to Biodiversity 2020 and the Aichi Global Biodiversity Framework Targets will be updated.

Aichi Targets for which this is a primary indicator

Strategic Goal E. Enhance implementation through planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

Aichi Target 20 iconTarget 20: By 2020, at the latest, the mobilisation of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 from all sources and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilisation should increase substantially from the current levels. This target will be subject to changes contingent to resources needs assessments to be developed and reported by Parties. 

Aichi Target for which this is a relevant indicator

Strategic Goal A. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

Aichi Target 2 icon

Target 2: By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

Aichi Target 3 icon

Target 3: By 2020, at the latest, incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socio-economic conditions.

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Downloads

Download the Datasheet and technical documentation from JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Last updated: November 2023

Latest data available: Financial year 2021/22

 

This content is available on request as a pdf in non-accessible format. If you wish for a copy please go to the enquiries page.

Categories:

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2023

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