Nature-Based Solutions Imperative To Global Defense
In the battle against global warming and climate change, there are no silver bullets. It will require both an offensive approach and a defensive one. Defending ecosystems and biodiversity is a moral obligation and an existential one.
A new report, the State Of Finance For Nature, prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) calls for the world to triple its investment in nature to help stabilize and defend humanity and the planet.
More than half of the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature. Agriculture, food and beverages and construction are the largest sectors that are dependent on nature (worth $8 trillion annually).
The Earth’s ecosystems have been significantly compromised as a result of human activity and the emphasis on short-term economic growth.
In order to ensure that humanity does not breach the safety limits of the planetary boundaries, we need a fundamental shift in mindset, transforming our relationship with nature. Currently, the majority of the essential benefits of nature have no financial market value, despite underpinning our current and future prosperity. From government policies related to procurement, taxation, trade and regulation, to the way businesses and financial institutions make decisions on investment, risk and disclosure, it is vital that we value nature.
The pace of species extinction, global warming, the growing number of extreme weather events and zoonotic diseases like Covid-19, have further reinforced the need to invest in sustainable action that enhances the resilience of ecosystems and addresses societal challenges, such as food security, climate change, water security, human health and enhanced resilience to disaster risk.
Despite the growing interest from governments, businesses and financial institutions, there is typically poor knowledge about the current investment in nature-based solutions (NbS). There also is a poor understanding of how much capital should be directed to NbS and what are the clear investment opportunities. To help address this situation, UNEP developed an important new report to promote a greater investment in the world’s ecosystems. The report analyzes current global investment in NbS and estimates future investment needs to meet biodiversity, climate change and land restoration ambitions, as set out in the three Rio Conventions.
“No one can be in any doubt that we are in a planetary emergency,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP. “The interrelated crises of biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change — driven by unsustainable production and consumption — require urgent and immediate global action. Investments in nature-based solutions must triple by 2030 and increase four-fold by 2050 if we hope to solve the planetary emergency.”
The ongoing loss of natural spaces, including forests, has become a systemic risk for the global economy. Estimates suggest that it will cost $854 billion annually to halt natural degradation.
The report found that the total volume of finance flowing into nature conservation is considerably smaller than the investment in climate finance.
The Green Purposes Company estimates that a $700 billion investment gap into NbS must be addressed to combat the climate crisis. It recommends investing $203 billion annually into forest-based solutions, which includes peat and mangrove restoration.
The UNEP report calls for agreement on a system for labeling, tracking, reporting and verifying the state of finance for NbS. This would improve data comparability and quality, as an input to future decision-making. NbS poses an opportunity for private sector investment in pursuit of revenue, resilience and reputation management.
The case studies included in the State of Finance for Nature initiative are examples of investment models that can be replicated and scaled-up around the world. Nature-based solutions are part of the equation. The case studies in the report illustrate the business case for tackling climate change and environmental degradation simultaneously though NbS.
Structural transformation must be built into post COVID economic recovery packages. Investing in natural solutions supports health, improves quality of life, and creates jobs.
The most important component of the ecosystem recovery plan is the cost of establishing new forests, which accounts for 80 percent of total costs.
Read the full UNEP report on nature-based solutions. https://www.unep.org/resources/state-finance-nature
To learn more about defending ecosystems and projects that are ready to accomplish that purpose, please contact Gary Chandler, Founder and Executive Director, Sacred Seedlings. Stakeholders across Africa have projects that are ready to go. Some of the work is already in progress. They need your help.