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Nature is everyone’s business: a call for collective action to reverse nature loss

2020 had been billed a “super year” for nature. As we entered the Decade of Action to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, expectations were high that we would see strides towards a consensus that placed nature at the heart of the conversation around the climate emergency

By: EBR - Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2020

The coalition provides five policy recommendations to drive post-COVID economic recovery and protection of nature.
The coalition provides five policy recommendations to drive post-COVID economic recovery and protection of nature.

by Eva Zabey*

2020 had been billed a “super year” for nature. As we entered the Decade of Action to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, expectations were high that we would see strides towards a consensus that placed nature at the heart of the conversation around the climate emergency.

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed many key moments expected to drive this action, including finalizing the UN post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Right now, policymakers should be gathering at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille to discuss nature conservation and sustainable development. Although the virus prevented attendees from meeting in person, the theme of the Congress – "One Nature, One Future" – resonates now more strongly than ever, as policymakers consider the shape of the post-COVID recovery.

Business for Nature – along with its 50 partners including the World Economic Forum, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and WWF – are determined to not let this “super year” pass by. On 15 June, we held the first major global leadership event to discuss nature in a world thinking about how to emerge from the pandemic. (Watch the highlights here.)

During the event, 2,200 attendees – including many businesses – heard from Paul Polman, Co-Founder of IMAGINE, who urged collective action and high ambition. Business leaders including Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber, Unilever CEO Alan Jope, AXA CEO Thomas Burbel, Natura &Co CEO Roberto Marques, Fosun International Chairman Guo Guangchang and Sintesa Group CEO Shinta Widjaja Kamdani shared ideas on how to reduce the impact of their business on natural resources.

This conversation was a powerful starting point. We know more than 1,200 businesses are already taking action for nature. But the urgent need for further action is unmistakable.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum identified environmental risks as the greatest systemic risks to our global economy. Currently, more than half the world’s total GDP – $44 trillion of economic value – is moderately or highly exposed to risks from nature loss. Healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature – and they are all at risk if we do not act.

Before COVID-19, the need to create more resilient economies and societies was clear. Now, it is inescapable. Nature is at a tipping point. We need to strengthen the resilience of our systems – nature, people, climate, health, food, finance, economy. And protecting nature is one of the immediate steps we can take to reduce the risk of future pandemics and make strides toward economic recovery.

As political leaders chart the path out of this crisis, they need to hear from businesses that a thriving natural world remains a critical priority. Many forward-thinking businesses have already shared ideas on how the economic recovery can support, not undermine, efforts to save the planet. Only by placing nature at the centre of future policy making and business practices can we “build back better.”

The voice of business is vital to achieve the necessary policy change. We are asking businesses to join our call for collective action and urge governments to act now to establish the policies we need to reverse nature loss within this decade.

Policies must be ambitious and transformative to deliver the change the science tells us is necessary. By aligning policy frameworks and using economic and financial systems to drive this change, governments can make a substantial difference in nature protection and help accelerate business action around the world.

A roadmap for policymakers

Business for Nature’s five policy recommendations provide a roadmap for the type of policies to include:

1. Provide direction and ambition. Adopt global targets informed by science to reverse nature loss by 2030 and recognize a planetary emergency. ?

2. Align, integrate and enforce policies for nature, people and climate. Bring greater coherence to UN governance, make nature part of mainstream government policy and ensure effective enforcement of environmental laws. ?

3. Go beyond short-term profit and GDP. Value and embed nature in decision-making and disclosure so governments, companies and financial organizations can make better long-term decisions. ?

4. Finance a socially fair transformation. Reform subsidies and incentives to reward positive action on nature alongside innovative and circular business models. Promote financial solutions that support nature. ?

5. Engage, enable and collaborate. Join forces so the public and private sector can implement solutions and empower society to act.

The future of global economies, societies and businesses rests on the ability to thrive within nature’s limits. Collective leadership and action are needed now to ensure the post-COVID recovery delivers this – because ultimately, nature is everyone’s business.

*Executive Director, Business for Nature
**first published in: www.weforum.org

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