Principle 3: Appreciate the direct economic contribution of certain nature-based solutions, which of course also have the added value of a full range of other benefits
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than one billion workers worldwide are at high risk of a pay cut or losing their job as a result of COVID-19 ‒ that is nearly half the global workforce. Studies by economists have indicated that investments that could deliver the highest value in the form of job creation and long-term economic performance include commitments and policy decisions that protect and enhance natural capital. Large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts, usually supported by government programs, have enormous potential to create jobs, perhaps as many as 40 jobs for every $1 million invested. In fact, evidence from the 2009-2010 stimulus showed that every million dollars invested in ecosystem restoration created 10 times as many jobs as investments in the coal or nuclear sector. With one-third of the planet’s land degraded, a global effort to restore degraded lands either to natural forest or to productive use could generate major economic, employment, and climate gains.
“As nature declines, the prospects for business success and future prosperity dwindle. Conversely, the business opportunities that await those committed to restoring natural ecosystems could be considerable.”
— New Nature Rising, World Economic Forum
Real economic recovery will come in part from investing in nature – whether it be sustainable forest management, or other productive investments that can help rebuild carbon sinks. We have long-needed significantly enhanced financing for green nature-based infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and the circular economy, as well as investment in deforestation-free commodity supply chains. At the very minimum, a ‘do no harm’ standard would ensure no further conversion of intact high-carbon, high-biodiversity ecosystems, as well as the adoption of minimum standards of sustainability in agricultural production.
Investing in nature-based solutions is about investing in people, jobs and the economy. The benefits that they offer will be expanded exponentially if we properly invested with an eye to the future and called upon nature’s power to help build a more resilient future.