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Biodiversity and Nature Conservation as a Means Towards More Resilience and Prosperity

The natural environment is everybody’s business. Human societies and economies rely on biodiversity in fundamental ways. Natural ecosystems provide a non-negotiable foundation for economic growth, human health and prosperity. In figures, this means that half of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which amounts to €44 trillion, depends on our ecosystems and their services1. The current pandemic has also reminded us of the inordinate importance of biodiversity, considering the role of healthy ecosystems in protecting us from disease spread. Making even greater commitments and acting on the protection of our natural environment and its restoration is one of the most important actions of our times in order to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), strengthen our resilience, and achieve a good life for everyone.

Biodiversity – the variability and abundance of living organisms and their habitats – is the most fundamental building block of our natural environment. Yet, biodiversity is under threat, with the current rate of extinction being tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years and it’s accelerating2. Specific SDGs exclusively address the threats imposed to our ecosystems and their diversity, and provide blueprints for coordinated action. SDG 14 on Life Below Water calls for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. SDG 15, which focuses on Life on Land targets the protection, restoration and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, including protecting forests, combating desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. In Europe, bold action is under way through the new EU-wide Biodiversity Strategy, part of the EU Green Deal, which will unlock €20 billion per year for biodiversity restoration.

Currently, earth system scientists are showing us how climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are interlinked to biodiversity loss. There is strong evidence that healthy ecosystems protect us from dispersal of diseases, as biodiversity makes it difficult for pathogens to spread rapidly. The risk of disease emergence increases with the intensification of human activities causing environmental degradation and encroachment of natural habitats, enabling pathogens in wildlife to spill over to livestock and humans.  Through the EU Biodiversity Strategy, ecosystem restoration will be a central element of the EU’s recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic, providing immediate business and investment opportunities and bringing direct and indirect jobs to local communities.

At the CSCP, we acknowledge the strategic interlinkages between healthy ecosystems and the leading sustainability goals of our time. We want to join forces in making biodiversity preservation an integral part of the sustainability agenda.

The World Economic Forum warns that environmental risks are the greatest systemic threats to our global economy. To achieve healthy and stable economies, mainstreaming circular principles is a key shift. There are significant opportunities in including biodiversity principles in the circular economy strategies and actions. One way of restoring ecosystems and supporting local communities is upscaling and implementing nature-based solutions. In our current projects and beyond, we look forward to collaborations that focus on enhancing biodiversity in circular economy approaches.

Biodiversity loss also puts our food systems and nutrition at risk: more than 75% of global food crop types rely at least partly on animal pollination and a diverse biome creates healthy soils3. Another way to see it is that food waste causes biodiversity loss in numerous ways by spending water and fuel, to name just a few. In various projects, we are working towards fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems, in view of the EU Farm to Fork strategy. We see increased impact in linking the implementation of the Farm to Fork with the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and are looking to join forces on this topic and alter the current trend together.

We are also keeping an eye on the role that the tourism industry has on biodiversity. In particular, we are looking for ways to tap into the possibilities that tourism strategies represent for the protection and preservation of biodiversity instead of taking a toll on local ecosystems. In our project Sustainable Island Mauritius, we are working with local authorities, businesses, communities, and tourists to integrate biodiversity considerations in policy formation, business models, production and consumption practices, and more. We look forward to replicating and further developing this know-how in order to make the tourism industry a champion for biodiversity protection.

We are open for new collaborations across all of our topics towards innovative ideas and impactful actions in curbing biodiversity loss and preserving our ecosystems. Biodiversity is a key ingredient for a good life – join us in restoring and preserving it!

For further questions, please reach out to Luis Esquivel.

 

1 World Economic Forum 2020
2 FAO UN
3 EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030