The world must quadruple its annual investment in nature to tackle climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises by mid-century, says a new UN report.
Invest only 0.1% of global GDP each year in restorative agriculture, forestry, pollution management and protected areas, closing a $ 4.1 billion (£ 2.9 billion) financial gap by 2050 could prevent the collapse of ” services’ of natural ecosystems such as drinking water, food and flood protection, according to the report.
The State of Finance for Nature report, produced by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Land Degradation Economics Initiative (ELD), said that ” a total investment of $ 8.1 billion was needed to maintain biodiversity and natural habitats vital for human civilization, reaching $ 536 billion per year by 2050, which is expected to represent around 0.13% of GDP global.
More than half of global GDP is based on high-performing biodiversity, but about a fifth of countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing due to destruction of the natural world, according to an analysis by insurance company Swiss Re the year last. Australia, Israel and South Africa were among the most threatened.
The Unep Report, which examined earth-based nature-based solutions, urges governments to re-use billions of dollars in damaging subsidies for agriculture and fossil fuels for the benefit of nature and to integrate the financial value of nature in decision making. By 2050, governments and the private sector will need to spend $ 203 billion to manage, conserve and restore forests around the world.
“The dependence of global GDP on nature is abstract, but what we really mean are livelihoods, jobs, people’s ability to feed themselves and water security” said Teresa Hartmann, WEF Climate and Nature Manager. “If we don’t, there is irreversible damage. The four trillion trillion gap that we describe cannot be bridged later. There will be irreversible damage to biodiversity that we can no longer repair.
The report follows a warning by leading scientists in January that the planet faces a “terrible future of mass extinction, health degradation and climate upheaval” due to ignorance and disruption. inaction.
“The way we use natural resources for food, textiles, wood, fiber, etc., has to change,” Hartmann said. “Everyone is talking about an energy transition at the heart of everyone’s understanding of climate change. No one is talking about a land use change transition. We cannot afford to continue to mine and produce as we do now.
About $ 133 billion is invested in nature each year, often by national governments. Almost two-thirds of this amount is spent on forest and peatland restoration, regenerative agriculture and natural pollution control systems.
The authors of the report said that nature and climate should be elevated in government lending terms as part of the expansion of investments, also citing the example of Costa Rica’s gasoline tax, which is used to finance its reforestation program. Private investment in nature-based solutions is only around 14% of the current total, according to the report, which said it needed to be scaled up through carbon markets, sustainable agricultural and forestry supply chains. and private financing.
Ivo Mulder, head of UNEP’s climate finance unit, said: “At the moment, emissions levels are at or equal to pre-Covid. So despite what everyone else is saying, businesses and governments have rebuilt as usual.
“The question is, how serious are we in investing in nature-based solutions, from both a government and business perspective? Failure to do so will likely prevent us from meeting the Paris climate agreement and further deplete biodiversity.
The report noted that the amount of finance flowing into nature was considerably smaller than that going to climate, but cautioned that the estimates were highly uncertain due to poor data quality on investing in nature. The authors called for improved labeling and tracking of investment flows.
In addition to the report, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of Unep, pointed out Dasgupta review, released earlier this year, which found the world was exposed to “extreme risk” by ignoring nature in economic decision-making.
The 600-page review of how vital ecosystems have been affected by economic development was commissioned by the UK Treasury and conducted by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, an economist at the University of Cambridge.
“We are pouring billions of dollars into the economy to build infrastructure, protect the poor and create health systems. If we want to protect the planet, it is worth thinking about investing in nature-based solutions, ”said Andersen.
“This is a fundamental overhaul, from engineering to architecture, from town planning to financial systems and agriculture. We need to integrate the regenerative dimension to nature into all of our systems. “