United Nations Urges Nature-Based Investments
Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Forests are loaded with the treasures of biodiversity. Despite their immense value, nearly half of the world’s rainforests have been lost since levels found in the 1960s. About 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of rainforest — an area nearly 14 times the size of Manhattan — are burned around the world every day to make room for agriculture and other natural resource industries. About 36 football fields worth of trees are lost every minute due to deforestation.
Nature loss is at the heart of many societal challenges, while nature-based solutions hold the potential to address interlinked crises. Deforestation cripples our planet’s capacity to capture carbon from the atmosphere, while contributing to the loss of endangered species. Deforestation has caused about 20 percent of the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
A new report, the State Of Finance For Nature, prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) calls for the world to triple its investment in nature to help 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 threatened by the world’s emphasis on short-term economic growth. We need to transform 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. This economic model is seriously flawed.
The pace of species extinction, global warming, the growing number of extreme weather events and zoonotic diseases such as 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 disasters.
Despite the growing interest, there is poor information 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 solve this problem, UNEP developed a new report that analyzes current global investment in NbS and estimates future investment needs to meet biodiversity, climate change and land restoration goals.
“We are in a planetary emergency,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP. “The interrelated crises of biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change 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 emergency.”
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