A new World Bank report released this month shows the huge economic costs of allowing key natural ecosystems to collapse. Critical services provided by nature, such as as ‘wild pollination and the provision of food from marine fisheries’, could trigger a ‘decline in global GDP of $2.7 trillion annually by 2030’.
In a series of papers The Economic Case for Nature report makes clear the extent to which economies rely on nature, especially low-income countries. It points to Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as areas that will suffer the greatest economic hardship from the erosion of ecosystem services, with an annual GDP loss of 9.7% and 6.7% respectively. The reason for this is a heavy reliance on pollinated crops, and in respect to Sub-Saharan Africa, on forest products.
“Preserving nature and maintaining its services are critical for economic growth,”said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Nature-smart policies and reforms, including agricultural subsidy reform and investments in agricultural innovation enhance biodiversity and economic outcomes. As countries seek to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that economic development improves outcomes for nature.”
The report, compiled in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Purdue University, will help inform international efforts towards forming a new global biodiversity framework at the COP15 convention in China later this year. With nature-based smart-policies seen as a crucial element in developing the framework.
“The report is a combination of policies that shows the greatest win-wins for both biodiversity and for economies. Adding investment in research and development to the policy mix is particularly important and beneficial to developing countries,” added World Bank Lead Environmental Economist and one of the report authors, Giovanni Ruta.
This win-win aspect goes to the heart of the big issues. Earlier this year serial pioneer Bertrand Piccard and his Solar Impulse Foundation reached, and surpassed, their target to identify ‘1000 solutions’ that can accelerate the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. What Bertrand and his team understand is that the economics of change must appeal to decision makers. Which is exactly what the 1000 solutions do. They are transformative in accelerating the Global Goals, while also providing economic gains.