Why your company should join the call on governments to protect nature

As leading businesses call on governments around the world to reverse nature loss, Cristianne Close, WWF Markets Practice Leader, argues any company seeking renewed purpose, and wanting to support a green, just, resilient recovery from COVID-19, must join them.

© Jonathan Caramanus / Green Renaissance / WWF-UK

Nature is everyone’s business

Today, leading businesses such as Carrefour, H&M, JD.com, Natura, and Walmart have called on governments around the world to protect and restore nature, recognizing it as the foundation of our health and prosperity. And in an open letter the Business for Nature coalition, representing nearly 50 influential business and civil society organisations, is urging others to join them in leading the call for a ‘nature positive’ future.

Around $44 trillion of economic value generation — over half of the world’s GDP — is moderately or highly dependent on nature. Yet we are using up natural resources and degrading natural systems faster than nature can replenish and restore them.

As nature loss reduces the provision of services such as pollination, clean air and water, and disease control, sectors such as construction, agriculture, and food and beverages that are most dependent on nature could be significantly disrupted.

We are eroding our planet’s natural capital to dangerously low levels. And as we struggle to recover from a global pandemic whose origins lie in deforestation and land use change, it is time we reset our broken relationship with nature.

© Jonathan Caramanus / Green Renaissance / WWF-UK

Build back better

COVID-19 has brought devastation to millions around the world, impacting livelihoods and jobs, and causing widespread disruption to the global economy at an estimated cost of $2.7 trillion, showing us just how vulnerable we are.

If we continue with business as usual, we risk further pandemics, climate breakdown, rising sea-levels, mass extinction, and other natural disasters at untold cost to humanity.

That is why an agenda to ‘build back better’ is gaining increasing support amongst governments, businesses and financial institutions around the world who are looking to create fairer, greener societies.

In the UK, for example, hundreds of businesses recently called on the government to deliver a COVID-19 recovery plan that delivers a more inclusive and resilient UK economy. And in Europe, an alliance for a green recovery has been joined by members of the European Parliament together with ministers, chief executives, NGOs and trade unions from across the continent.

The COVID-19 crisis has triggered a rethink on the kind of future we want. And as we build the economies and societies of the future, restoring ecosystems, reversing nature loss, tackling climate change, and safeguarding the planet must be part of recovery.

Enabling investment in a nature positive world

From reducing food waste and improving water security, to tackling climate change and promoting a green economy, leading businesses around the world already support sustainability at many levels, and well over a thousand are making nature a priority, using natural resources sustainably, creating clean jobs, and producing greener products.

Business can also play a critical role in reversing nature loss by investing in nature-based solutions which harness the power of ecosystems to tackle challenges such as climate change, and food and water security while also creating jobs and healthier societies.

The benefits are striking. Estimates suggest every dollar invested in landscape-scale restoration can generate nine in return in economic benefits such as improved soil and crop productivity, cleaner water, storm protection, and expanded habitat for wildlife.

Reforestation and forest restoration, for example, offer easily implemented ‘shovel ready’ opportunities for investment which not only deliver jobs for vulnerable workers laid off as a result of COVID-19 but also resilience and health benefits.

And globally, investment in areas such as low carbon innovation, green infrastructure and sustainable food systems is crucial for long-term resilience, prosperity and job creation.

Yet realising the transition to a carbon neutral, nature positive world, and delivering a green, just recovery is not something that business can do alone.

Companies responding to international market demand and investing in deforestation- and conversion-free supply chains, for example, need regulatory back up. In producing countries less rigorous in policing deforestation, their efforts are at risk of reversal.

Governments have a crucial enabling role to play, designing ambitious, transformative polices and incentives which properly value nature and drive systemic change that rewards investment in nature and facilitates the transition to nature positive business models.

© Kaisa Siren / WWF

Join the Call To Action on nature

Putting nature at the heart of recovery will not only help reduce habitat and species loss but also create greener supply chains and millions of jobs, which in turn will shape economies and societies more resilient to future crises.

As our political leaders plan the path out of the COVID-19 crisis, they must hear loudly and clearly from business leaders that a healthy natural world is a critical and growing priority.

All businesses seeking renewed purpose and wanting to shape a better world should join the Business for Nature call on governments to reverse nature loss now and help ensure world leaders safeguard our future.

2020 is not turning out as any of us expected. But we may look back on it as the year we reset our destructive relationship with nature, they year that a tiny microbe stopped humanity in its tracks and inspired us to put right what is broken in our societies.

Our own health, well-being and survival are inseparable from that of nature. And recovery from COVID-19 is an unmissable opportunity for change.

Find out more and sign up to the Business for Nature Call To Action here.

Building a future in which people live in harmony with nature.