One Planet Summit sets hopeful tone for 2021 on nature and climate

News 13.01.21


Wednesday 13th January 2021

“Nature, the true engine of our economy” are seven words among thousands in the UK’s Prince Charles’ Terra Carta, a private sector initiative announced at the One Planet Summit on Monday – alongside many other initiatives. But these seven simple words capture the spirit of the charter, the summit itself and what needs to happen at further critical multilateral meetings in 2021: how can we transform our economic systems in a way that restores nature and balance to the climate?

Through the Terra Carta (Earth Charter), Prince Charles is asking signatories from as many sectors as possible to agree to 100 actions to become more sustainable by 2030. It invites inclusive participation: “The Terra Carta will be open to any CEO…in any sector, that wishes to support the private sector’s role in helping to build an inspiring, inclusive, equitable, prosperous and sustainable future. In 2021, COP15 (biodiversity) and COP26 (climate) will be critical milestones to demonstrate private sector commitment and action.” It also contains reference to a new Natural Capital Investment Alliance, looking to raise $10 billion by 2022.

The One Planet Summit, hosted by France’s President Macron, was the first meeting of many scheduled to take place this year that will focus on biodiversity, food systems and climate change – all of which are set against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic that continues to destroy lives and economies around the world. The One Planet event, held annually since 2017, focused on four key themes: the protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystems; increasing funding for biodiversity protection; finding links between deforestation and the health of human and animals; and promoting agroecology.

The connection between human health, economic well-being, climate change and the natural world has been made very clear in the current crisis – and is one of the drivers behind the positive commitment from 50 countries to protect at least 30% of the planet’s lands and oceans, announced at the summit. The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People is co-chaired by Costa Rica, France and the UK and brings together more than 50 governments from six continents to secure agreement at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 which will be held later this year in Kunming, China.

The UK’s Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment, Lord Goldsmith, said: “We know there is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve a massive increase in our efforts to protect and restore nature. So as co-host of the next Climate COP, the UK is absolutely committed to leading the global fight against biodiversity loss and we are proud to act as Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition.”

The UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke at the summit (alongside leaders such as Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, China’s vice-premier, Han Zhen, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres) announcing his country’s commitment to spend at least £3 billion of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity over five years. The funds form part of the UK’s £11.6 billion contribution to a climate finance initiative, and he added: “Yes we must tackle climate change, but climate change must be seen as part of an overall agenda to protect the natural world.”

France also committed to dedicating 30% of its international climate funding to biodiversity and Canada announced strong support for joint funding to tackle climate and nature loss too.  Ahead of the conference, in other good news, major funders, including the European Investment Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development announced about $14.3 billion to accelerate the development of the Great Green Wall project in Africa’s semiarid Sahel region — an area particularly hit by the effects of climate change — over the next five years. Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, President of Mauritania, said: “We need restoration and land-based management. In that context, agro-ecology is a huge opportunity for our region. We need more initiatives like the Green Green Wall; it is an opportunity for a post-Covid recovery.”

To keep up to date on the latest news, views, and science in the world of nature-based solutions, sign up to our newsletter.