Green Development Initiative
|Mission||Sustainable land management|
|Method||Land certification scheme|
|Motto||"Conserving our planet, hectare by hectare"|
The Green Development Initiative (GDI) aims to establish a biodiversity standard and certification scheme for land management. The standard is based on the objectives and approaches of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and will be used to certify areas which are managed for conservation and development. GDI certification will facilitate the allocation of resources needed for preserving threatened biodiversity or restoring degraded biodiversity.
Organisation structure 
The GDI Board is international and includes representatives from governments, the private sector and NGOs. Its role is to set the overall direction of the Initiative and the review its work programmes. These work programmes include potential and current GDI pilot projects as well as the creation and development of the certification modalities. The first Board meeting took place on the 27th May 2011.
Advisory Group 
The GDI Advisory Group was set up in April 2011. Currently the Advisory is made up of 27 members, all of which are experienced in the domain of sustainability, biodiversity, finance and business. The group uses their expertise to advise and council the GDI Secretariat on the development of work programmes and certification modalities.
Earthmind serves as the Secretariat for the Initiative. Work is undertaken by a team of professional consultants and junior associates. Core funding comes from the Biodiversity Policy Programme of the Government of the Netherlands.
Phase I: GDM 2010 Initiative 
The GDM 2010 Initiative began in 2009 with aim of bringing forward a discussion on a new financial mechanism for biodiversity at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the (COP 10). The Conference took place in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. The aim of the Initiative was to explore the possibility of establishing a mechanism which would be voluntary, transparent and accountable so as to secure additional financial resources from the private sector for biodiversity.
During Phase 1, extensive consultations were undertaken. Key events which included papers and presentations on the idea of a green development mechanism included:
1st Expert Meeting on a Green Development Mechanism 
This meeting, hosted by the Dutch Government in February 2009, invited a group of biodiversity and conservation experts to discuss options for building markets which seek to implement international conservation obligations. The meeting concluded that there is a need for a mechanism on an international level to recognise and compensate for the costs of biodiversity protection. It was noted that the issues raised should be put forward as a GDM proposal.
3rd Business & Biodiversity Conference 
During the 3rd CBD/UNEP Business & Biodiversity Conference held in Jakarta in December 2009, private sector finance was a key subject. In support of this discussion, the GDM 2010 Initiative organised a side event to explore the idea of a green development mechanism. An outcome of the conference was the “Jakarta Declaration” which includes explicit support for a Green Development Mechanism.
1st International Workshop on Innovative Financial Mechanisms 
This CBD/UNEP TEEB expert workshop, held during January 2010 in Bonn, looked into the development of new financial mechanisms in terms of the CBD Strategy for Resource Mobilisation. The workshop resulted in a consensus that with further work a new international mechanism (GDM) could be used both as a way of building supplementary resources and as a way of providing further backbone to continuing schemes and new initiatives.
2nd Expert Meeting, on a Green Development Mechanism 
This meeting was organised by Earthmind on behalf of the GDM 2010 Initiative Steering Committee and the Dutch Government and was held during February 2010 in Bali. It focused on the experiences and perspectives of developing countries in order to advise on possible modalities of a GDM. Key recommendations included focusing resource utilisation on verifiable biodiversity-responsible land management and establishing a GDM standard.
4th Expert Meeting, on the BioArea Standard 
In March 2012, experts conveined in São Paulo to focus on the business case for registering and certifying BioAreas. They also explored how the GDI approach contributes to the CBD Biodiversity Strategy for 2020 and to the RIO+20 deliberations on the green economy. Perhaps most importantly, the meeting considered he practicality of a new unit for biodiversity – a BioHectare. As BioAreas can measured in hectares (or acres), the GDI approach establishes a management unit of biodiversity which can be used by area managers, companies, investors, public sector authorities, NGOs and others to target and monitor their efforts and resources for specific area-based biodiversity actions. If biodiversity outcomes can be measured in BioHectares, then the GDI approach may provide a much needed framework for corporate biodiversity responsibility.
Preparatory CBD meetings 
In the build-up to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10), two of the central preparatory meetings took place in Nairobi in May 2010. For SBSTTA14 (the 14th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice) a side event explored the challenges and opportunities involved in creating a GDM which could support CBD targets. For WGRI3 (the 3rd meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention) a side event focused on business engagement in the quest to develop an innovative international financial mechanism. In the WGRI3 deliberations, the Parties agreed on a draft decision on innovative financial mechanism which included reference to the GDM.
CBD COP10 
During COP10 in October 2010 which was held in Nagoya, the GDM 2010 Initiative held two side events to brief Parties and delegates about the proposal for having a global discussion on a green development mechanism in the context of their negotiations on innovative financial mechanisms. In the end, the Parties were unable to complete their negotiations on this topic and no decision was reached. Nevertheless, key decisions from COP10 provided further support for continuing work on a new mechanism for green development, particularly with the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Phase II: Green Development Initiative 
Following the consultations leading up to CBD COP10 in October 2010, a new phase was launched to develop and text a promising modalities for a green development mechanism. The focus of the Green Development Initiative (GDI) is to establish a biodiversity standard and certification scheme for land management which will facilitate financial support for conservation and development action on the ground.
In many ways the GDI shares the same ethos as UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative (GEI), which is “a project designed to communicate that the greening of economies is not a burden on growth but rather a new engine for growth, employment, and the reduction of persistent global poverty.” In this respect, the GDI is aiming to certify positive biodiversity outcomes in terms of conservation and development for geographically-defined areas.
Importantly, the GDI is not envisioned as a compliance mechanism to offset environmental impacts, but rather as a verification mechanism to recognise good environmental performance. It seeks to allow companies and other organisations to responsibly manage their own land by satisfying relevant biodiversity performance indicators and also to support the efforts of others to implement biodiversity management plans for their lands.
In 2011, the GDI is developing its standard and certification scheme through a number of pilot projects representing a diversity of landscapes and land uses. These in include responsible soy farming in Brazil, cocoa and timber production in Ghana, and community based natural resource management in Namibia.
The BioArea Standard 
This includes the CBD objectives and the core elements of a BioArea Management System – a precise geographic definition of the area and confirmation of its management authority; undertaking of a baseline assessment including stakeholder consultation; drafting of a 5-year biodiversity action plan; and a monitoring and reporting procedure with annual public reports.
The application of this starts with the nomination of an area by the responsible management authority. Once the area’s baseline assessment and management plan has been submitted and verified, it will be registered for a 5-year period. Through an independent auditing process, the BioArea can also be certified. An online BioArea Registry will list Nominated, Registered, and Certified BioAreas. To ensure public transparency and accountability, information on these areas including their annual performance reports will be made available on the Registry.
The GDI Biodiversity Standard 
The GDI Biodiversity Standard is aimed at the management of geographically-defined locations. Its foundations are derived from the objectives and definitions of the CBD. The Biodiversity Standard aims to offer an all-encompassing standard for biodiversity management which is suitable for any geographical area in locations all over the globe. It focuses on four core components of biodiversity: landscapes, ecosystems, species and habitats, and biological resources. The actions to be undertaken in a biodiversity management need to address four objectives: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of biological resources; equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of this use; and economic and social development.