Scaling up market-based approaches to biodiversity conservation in Malawi and Zambia

Supporting nature conservation by promoting sustainable agriculture

Malawi and Zambia are endowed with unique aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, which comprise of an abundant and diversified flora and fauna. According to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), over 800 fish species have been described in Lake Malawi, the majority of them being endemic to the Lake. In Zambia, mammal diversity is estimated at 224 species, with over 28 species and subspecies considered threatened, endangered or vulnerable. The distinctive biodiversity of the two southern African countries, however, is increasingly threatened by the expansion of agriculture and settlement areas, leading to an alarming overexploitation of local ecosystems. Unsustainable social and economic development is rapidly diminishing Malawi’s and Zambia’s biological wealth, resulting in habitat loss and degradation of natural resources. Factors such as pollution, invasion by alien species, climate change, overharvesting of natural resources and a lack of recognition of indigenous knowledge and property rights add to the situation.

In order to address this, both countries’ national biodiversity strategies envisage a strong involvement of the private sector and the mobilisation of private investments. Market-based solutions developed by green micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) bear significant potential to contribute to biodiversity conservation due to their high innovation capacity. However, both countries currently lack bankable business models and tailored instruments to operationalise biodiversity finance.

This project mobilises biodiversity investments and scales biodiversity-friendly entrepreneurship, thus contributing to a sustainable use, conservation and restoration of ecosystems. The project benefits two main target groups: Biodiversity-friendly MSMEs and financial and public institutions in Malawi and Zambia. As to the first target group, it empowers biodiversity MSMEs to access finance to invest into growth. These enterprises have developed business models which from the outset are designed to conserve and restore ecosystems and thus create positive biodiversity impacts. Growing and scaling their activities thus increases positive biodiversity impacts. Highly interactive capacity building programmes (Accelerator Programmes; Replicator Workshops) will strengthen the capacities of biodiversity MSMEs in both countries. These will be complemented by Biodiversity Roundtables and other exchange formats to encourage cross-sector collaboration and increase awareness among various stakeholders.

As to the second target group – financial and public institutions, it aims to increase the understanding of conservation finance and design innovative financial instruments. Interactive trainings and Lab formats will strengthen the capacities of commercial banks and public actors to mobilise and operationalise biodiversity finance and engage a variety of stakeholders, including the private and financial sector to co-create financial prototypes.

adelphi is implementing the project together with the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) based in Malawi and the Women's Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC) based in Zambia.