Why a nature-positive economic system would benefit all of us

Transformation change is required within the systems that support our economies to benefit nature. In September 2020, NABU (BirdLife in Germany) and the Boston Consulting Group published the report The Biodiversity Imperative for Business – Preserving the Basics of Our Wellbeing, which highlighted that biodiversity, in addition to its inherent value, has an annual benefit of over 170 trillion US dollar offers. and offers industry-specific recommendations for companies to incorporate biodiversity into their economic decisions and processes. Here are the main conclusions:

Biodiversity is the basis of human wellbeing and our economic activities

Many of nature’s vital services, such as crop pollination, pest control, drug delivery, greenhouse gas sequestration, flood protection, and air pollution control, depend directly on how it works and the various ecosystems. A key finding from the study is that biodiversity is worth at least $ 170-190 trillion a year – at least twice as much as the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). 65 percent of this value comes from the regulatory functions of ecosystems such as CO2 regulation, waste recycling and the prevention of erosion. However, this represents a lower limit as only a small part of biodiversity can be expressed in monetary terms. Values ​​such as well-being or joy are difficult to quantify because they are perceived individually and can vary between cultures. Furthermore, the intrinsic value of biodiversity – its own value that goes beyond the value it offers people – can hardly be given a price tag.

Economic activities promote the global decline in biodiversity. At the same time, they are crucially dependent on biological diversity and ecosystem services

Agriculture, forestry and fishing, the expansion of infrastructure, the extraction of raw materials and industrial production are the main contributors to the alarming loss of global biodiversity. They contribute through land use changes, direct overexploitation of organisms, greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution and the spread of invasive species. Production and consumption patterns fuel this development. It is estimated that we lose $ 6 to $ 30 trillion annually in monetary terms due to biodiversity loss. At the same time, the added value of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors – currently at 3.5 trillion US dollars – is highly dependent on ecosystem services and biodiversity. If we lose services of this nature, so does the economy.

NABU’s most recent report highlights the financial value of biodiversity – in addition to its inherent value.

Transformation changes are necessary to resolve the planetary emergency. Biodiversity must be included in all political decisions and economic processes

Systemic challenges require systemic solutions. An economic paradigm shift is necessary in which all parties involved – governments, companies and society – understand nature conservation as a prerequisite for long-term success and well-being. The economic value added must be in harmony with the conservation and restoration of biological diversity. Likewise, the impact of all political decisions on biodiversity must be assessed and taken into account. Governments, businesses and society must work together to make the strides needed to meet the new biodiversity goals and to bend the curve of biodiversity loss.

This has to be based on a landscape perspective: we need a well-connected network of protected areas that focus on key areas for biodiversity, as well as integrated land use models to improve biodiversity in production areas. The latter is characterized by diverse structures and space for nature, for example for trees, hedges or flower areas from local seeds, by a large number of cultivated plants and by lower pesticide and nutrient input. Joint action on nature and climate is also crucial and requires synergies between biodiversity and climate change agendas.

The time to act is now. Business as usual is not an option. It is clear what we have to do

The study contains a variety of recommendations for various stakeholders that make it clear that now is the time to act. Politicians have a responsibility to enable the transformative change that is needed. They need to implement clear rules and incentives to set the framework for protecting and restoring biodiversity while ensuring transparency and fair competition. This “creates a level playing field” and enables the corporate sector and consumers as a whole to achieve the goal of nature-positive and climate-neutral production and nature-neutral consumption.

Businesses themselves should proactively and urgently incorporate biodiversity issues into all economic decisions and processes in a variety of ways. They can collect and disclose data on their ecological footprint and commit to voluntary biodiversity standards. You can build circular economies to keep resource requirements and land use to a minimum. You can also get involved in nature restoration projects. And they not only have a responsibility to educate and inform their consumers, customers and employees about the impact of their products on biodiversity, but will ultimately benefit from the resulting demand for greener, more environmentally friendly products as part of a new, nature-positive product Economy.


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