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Four ways financial institutions can shape a nature-positive global economy

With a new landmark global agreement on nature directing governments to eliminate harmful subsidies, align financial flows with a nature-positive future, and require the private sector to disclose nature-related risks and opportunities, the smart money is on implementation and investment in nature. It may not be perfect but the long-anticipated Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) agreed last month finally recognises the urgent need to address the neglected side of the dual climate and nature crisis. As António Guterres put it recently in Davos, we must “stop our self-defeating war on nature”. The GBF’s goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 finally provides the world with a lodestar for action on nature akin to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target for limiting global warming. And its implementation at national and sectoral level will require companies, financial institutions, and investors to act.

Business Action for a Nature-Positive World: Welcome to the Future

Nature is the next big sustainability frontier for business and finance. Almost every sector is exposed to nature-related risks in some way – either through suffering disruption to supply chains, markets, and society caused by environmental degradation, or through causing nature loss directly and losing finance and customers as a consequence. Worldwide, the potential collapse of ecosystem services such as pollination and timber threatens an annual decline in global GDP by 2030. This makes protecting and investing in nature an economic as well as a moral imperative.

Why business and finance should prioritise a nature-positive Amazon

A living Amazon is vital for global stability, not least because of its role in storing carbon and regulating global climate. It is also an ecosystem in grave peril. If there’s one place on the planet where we should prioritise the pursuit of equitable, net-zero, nature-positive business, revive cooperation in a fragmented world, and deliver on global climate and nature goals, it’s the Amazon.

To deliver the global economy we need, we must invest in nature

As the world gathers in Sharm El-Sheikh to focus on implementing the Paris Agreement, and soon after in Montreal to agree a new Global Biodiversity Framework, world leaders must scale investment in nature-based solutions and forge a new narrative of hope. Make no mistake, nature is unraveling, and climate and ecosystem breakdown are upon us. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2022 sets out the science. Global wildlife populations have plummeted by 69% on average since 1970, and unless we limit global heating to 1.5°C, climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of nature loss.

Opinion: The right to a healthy environment for everyone, everywhere

In the midst of compound environmental, socioeconomic, and security crises, the United Nations General Assembly has the chance this month to make history — by recognizing the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. This would not only fill a longstanding gap in the international human rights framework but, around the world, trigger greater pursuit of environmental action that delivers real benefits for people and the planet, and lays the foundations for lasting peace and prosperity.

Transitioning to net-zero requires a nature-positive economy

There is growing global recognition that delivering the transition to net zero, tackling climate breakdown, and building lasting social, economic, and environmental resilience relies in no small measure on investing in nature and forging a global economy that is nature-positive as well as net zero. This is encouraging — but we currently have neither a North Star for action on nature akin to the Paris 1.5°C target for climate, nor the policies, incentives, or finance necessary to realize the nature-positive ambition.

For security and survival, business must go all-in on nature

Global supply chains rocked by climate change, the pandemic, and war in Ukraine are driving fuel, fertiliser, and food prices to all-time highs, threatening supplies of wheat and sunflower oil, and triggering a global food crisis. In responding to this perfect storm, governments and businesses must balance meeting immediate needs with creating the conditions for long-term stability, including tackling the climate emergency and nature loss. Government and business leaders meeting in Davos, Switzerland at the end of May must signal an all-in pursuit of food system transformation and nature-positive production, a foundation for which must be creating deforestation- and conversion-free supply chains.

Every Company Needs to Assess Its Nature-Related Risk

Nature Loss and Climate Change Are Two Sides of the Same Coin. In a piece of good news, the TNFD has released its first beta framework for managing and disclosing nature-related risk, offering highly practical 'how to' guidance for nature-related risk and opportunity analysis. Nature loss and climate change are two sides of the same coin, and the TNFD recommendations align with the now well-established Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

What We Need for Long-Term Peace and Prosperity

Russia’s war in Ukraine is a humanitarian catastrophe that violates the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law, and has exacerbated socioeconomic and environmental crises around the world. It is also the latest manifestation of a global system that does not improve the human condition. Our imperfect responses to climate change, biodiversity loss, the COVID-19 pandemic, rising energy and food costs, and war reveal international systems in dire need of redesign.

Biodiversity: Why Should Business Care?

Unlike the climate crisis, biodiversity loss is just starting to get the attention it deserves. On a typical day, one minute I might find myself reading about the rescue of stranded dolphins by the Maio Biodiversity Foundation – a Cabo Verde conservation organisation I helped set up in 2011 – and the next, about 1,100 dolphins dying on French beaches. Extremes of hope and despair are common in conservation – and as conservationists, we need to find coping mechanisms. One of mine involves engaging business in finding solutions to biodiversity loss. But why is biodiversity so important?

Conservation must put people and rights front and centre

As we mark Human Rights Defenders Day (December 9th) and Human Rights Day (December 10th) at WWF, we are committed to delivering inclusivity in all our work, upholding and championing human rights, and supporting and protecting those who defend them for us all. Recognition of the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment at the Human Rights Council that took place in Geneva this October marked a significant step toward filling a longstanding gap in the international human rights framework.

Race to Zero: Biz Schools Must Supercharge Firm Engagement

By the end of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries responsible for over 80 percent of global CO2 emissions had made net-zero emissions commitments. But the Glasgow Climate Pact is no climate action thriller. It keeps alive the possibility of avoiding climate catastrophe by limiting global heating to 1.5°C, but only just. With climate-related business and financial risks growing, the private sector must now take the lead and fast-track the transition to a net-zero economy. Business schools need to furnish all sectors with the know-how and leadership to do this as quickly, fairly and effectively as possible.

Equality, justice, and investment in nature must be at the heart of the corporate climate response

With the outcome of climate negotiations in Glasgow in the balance, the role of business in responding to the planetary emergency through initiatives such as the Race to Zero is more important than ever. Yet with the most severe impacts being felt by the most vulnerable sectors of society who have contributed least to the crisis, and whose livelihoods often depend on a resilient natural environment, companies must put equality and justice at the heart of attempts to tackle climate change.

5 critical incentives that could protect nature and the climate

While the risks of inaction are massive, we know that transitioning to a nature-positive economy could generate annual business opportunities worth over $10 trillion and create 395 million jobs by 2030. And momentum is building for companies to mitigate their climate and nature impacts, and invest in nature-based solutions which serve nature, climate, and societal goals. But securing an equitable, net-zero, nature-positive future requires rapid scaling of efforts across sectors and value chains, and this relies on coherent policies and incentives from governments.

Follow the Money at COP26

“If money go before, all ways do lie open” Together with accelerating nature loss, the climate crisis is a ‘code red’ for the global economy — so what do we hope to see on Finance Day here in Glasgow at COP26? As the recent call on G20 leaders from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) — a net zero alliance chaired by UN Special Envoy Mark Carney and responsible for a massive $130+ trillion in assets in 40 countries — makes plain, it is governments that must restructure the global financial system and accelerate an equitable transition to net zero. While finance ministers and central bankers understand the need, last weekend’s G20 was disappointing, making COP26 the place where world leaders must now make a start. Will it be a tragicomedy on a grand scale, or a case of all’s well that ends well? Or too little, too late? Here are three things to look out for on Finance Day.

Companies Must Put Equality at the Heart of the Race to Zero

The window of opportunity to secure a 1.5°C pathway is rapidly closing, and UN Secretary General António Guterres has declared a ‘code red for humanity’. Many companies are already responding to the climate crisis, setting science-based emissions reduction targets and joining initiatives such as the Race to Zero. By the time of COP26 in Glasgow, countries responsible for 78 percent of global GDP will have pledged net-zero emissions. But a singular pursuit of net-zero emissions over broader support for economic development and energy transformation could exacerbate inequality. Clumsy measures, whether from the public or private sector, could not only risk popular backlash, they could also derail fragile progress towards a climate-resilient future.
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