In 1972, the Club of Rome’s ground-breaking publication, “Limits to Growth”, predicted that unchecked population growth, coupled with ever-increasing resource consumption, would eventually pose an existential risk to humanity. Fifty years ago, already, the world knew where our trajectory was headed – towards a planetary emergency. We must urgently embark on pathways to avoid passing climate, biodiversity and health tipping points.
Increasing ambition on protecting and restoring nature to secure a planetary safety net for humanity
The opening session of the Nature for Life Hub features a unified voice of dozens of governments from the High Ambition Coalition, the Leaders Pledge for Nature and the Global Oceans Alliance, all calling for bold goals of protecting at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030. Similarly, leaders throughout the event call for the acceleration of restoring a billion hectares by 2030. Achieving these goals will help create a planetary safety net for humanity.
Aligning public and private sector finance
Public- and private-sector finance often serve to accelerate biodiversity loss. For example, nearly 90 percent of agricultural subsidies and incentives go toward activities that can harm nature. Repurposing this finance to foster a just, regenerative transition is a US$470 billion opportunity. Moreover, while the total value of global investment assets under management is more than $100 trillion, it would cost just $400 billion a year to clean up the world’s oceans, expand protected areas to 30 percent of the planet and restore a billion hectares of degraded lands. Creating financial structures to repurpose agricultural subsidies and incentives, and to redirect private capital, is one of the most urgent tasks in this decade – as outlined by the Planetary Emergency Partnership ahead of the G7 Leaders’ Summit.
Aligning business practices
For too long, our market has failed to account for nature’s values. Businesses have had a free pass to profit at the expense of nature, and the era of a nature-blind economy is rapidly coming to a close. The official launch of the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures this month is a sign that businesses will soon be held accountable for their impacts on nature and must align their practices to minimize these impacts if they are to remain competitive.
Reimagining the nature of development by putting nature at the heart of development
If economic and development models are failing to help us thrive in the Anthropocene, how must we reimagine the very nature of development? UNDP’s 2020 Human Development Report provides a clear start – we must change how we measure progress by accounting for impacts on the environment. The launch of the UN Biodiversity Lab, featuring countries developing their own spatial “Map of Hope”, shows a similar path – of governments putting nature at the heart of their sustainable development, climate and biodiversity goals.