KUNMING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (14 October 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today launched the Regional Flyway Initiative (RFI), a program that aims to preserve wetlands across the region, which are critical for the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people as well as the annual migration of hundreds of species of birds in Asia and the Pacific.

The initiative was launched at the Ecological Civilization Forum of the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, the People’s Republic of China.

ADB will join with the East Asian–Australasian Flyway (EAAF) Partnership Secretariat, BirdLife International, and other key partners to raise $3 billion over the next 10 years to help protect priority wetland clusters along the EAAF. The EAAF is home to a large number of diverse communities and is a critical bird migration route extending across more than 20 countries from the Arctic Circle to New Zealand.

“As we rebuild from the pandemic, we must seize the opportunity to secure a green, resilient, and inclusive future,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said at the launch. “Our flyway-wide approach is a great example of how we can do this through strong international cooperation. ADB is proud to lead on efforts like this, with a blended approach that brings together effective public and private finance.”

“BirdLife is proud to join ADB and the EAAF in this truly important effort to save and restore such critical habitats for birds and people,” said BirdLife Chief Executive Officer Patricia Zurita. “Wetlands in Asia and the Pacific provide food and clean water and act as a bulwark for flood control and carbon sequestration. They are therefore critical for the region’s people, as well the tens of millions of birds who depend on them as rest and food stops on their biannual migration journeys.” 

Nearly 200 million people rely on the wetlands that lie along the EAAF and the ecosystem services they provide. Wetlands support livelihoods with food and clean water and opportunities in recreation and tourism. They also deliver key flood regulating services, sequester carbon, and help in adapting to climate change. More than 50 million migratory waterbirds of more than 210 species—along with many other animal and plant species—also depend on thousands of the EAAF’s wetlands for food, shelter, and other essential needs.

The RFI will be developed through a $1 million ADB technical assistance (TA) grant program for the development phase. Over the next 2 years, the TA will identify wetland sites of international importance that deliver ecosystem services, support livelihoods, and protect migratory waterbirds. ADB will consult with governments, partners, and stakeholders to produce a final list of priority sites from which investment concepts will be developed. The TA will identify capacity issues for participating governments and will develop a sustainable financing mechanism.

The long-term vision is to deliver projects across the region over the next 10 or more years that support the protection and sustainable management of at least 50 priority sites along the EAAF. A sustainable financing mechanism will run in parallel to these investments, ensuring that key capacity issues are addressed, and site maintenance and monitoring continues.

The RFI is part of ADB’s Roadmap for Nature-Positive Investments, which will expand ADB financing for biodiversity and provide developing member countries with targeted support for programs that address ecological priorities in Asia and the Pacific. The roadmap builds on ADB’s Strategy 2030 which includes a focus on tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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