Opening remarks by Bambang Susantono, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, at Thematic Forum 5: Ecological Civilization Forum of the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 15 October 2021, Kunming, People’s Republic of China 

Distinguished guests, partners, colleagues, and friends:
Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here at this forum. 

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I would like to thank the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Yunnan Provincial Government for helping organize and host this event.

The Ecological Civilization Forum offers an opportunity to break new ground in stopping and reversing the rapid decline in biodiversity and the ecosystems that are our natural capital. 

Natural capital is critical to our existence. We must value nature―with all its complexity and diversity―as the foundation of all human activity. Nature is vitally important to our health and wealth. It helps us adapt to and mitigate climate change. It also serves as a buffer against future pandemics.

We still struggle to highlight the role nature plays in crafting our development and investment agendas. One reason is that we do not sufficiently value what natural capital contributes to our economies. We tend to undervalue nature and leave it out of economic and financial decision-making. 

We must integrate and “price” nature into development planning, policy making, financial reform, investment planning, and knowledge generation. We need to elevate nature into our decision-making processes.

Taking a nature-positive approach, we include nature-related risks when making management and investment decisions. This will ensure we avoid or minimize negative affects; and help restore and expand natural capital.

This morning’s agenda focuses on how we can support the transition to nature-positive investments. It explores the complexities of natural capital accounting, looking for innovative ways to value nature as we continue to seek a green, nature-positive, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economic recovery.

ADB has grown to become the region’s premier development bank in the 55 years since its founding. It is also a knowledge bank, Asia and the Pacific’s climate bank, and is also becoming the green bank. 

I am happy to share with you today what we have done to accelerate and increase nature-positive investments. We have established a Regional Natural Capital Lab, or NCL. The NCL helps our developing members value natural capital, strengthen regulatory frameworks, and apply innovative financing to support nature-positive investments.  

An example is our Innovative Natural Capital Financing Facility. It will help make nature-reliant food systems more resilient and sustainable over the long-term. It will also support our oceans through investments in sustainable tourism and fisheries. It will protect and restore vital ecosystems. And it will support the Regional Flyway Initiative, protect wildlife habitats, maintain ecosystem services, and provide livelihoods for more than 50 million people.

We all know about GDP. But today we deal with GEP, or gross ecosystem product―a nature service valuation index. ADB was the first multilateral development bank to support GEP, piloted together with the People’s Republic of China, or PRC, through several local governments. We will hear about GEP’s success in Colombia and other places today.

We will also discuss knowledge solutions, highlighting the tools that evolved from our joint effort with partners to give nature its true value. We will also discuss how to refine and mainstream these tools into “real, everyday life.”

Today, we launch an ADB publication on Greening Development in the People’s Republic of China. The report explains how we have successfully partnered with the PRC to promote green development and restore ecosystems so they complement economic and social priorities.

I want to thank our speakers, panelists, and partners who co-organized this thematic forum. I look forward to discussions on nature-based financing and nature-positive investments. Together, we can move forward to a nature-friendly, prosperous future. Thank you.


  • Susantono, Bambang
    Susantono, Bambang
    Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development