Climate love
Image of Inger Andersen (environmentalist)

Inger Andersen (environmentalist)

Climate love

A radical shift to working with nature

FOR: Nature Driving Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Power of Biodiversity and Nature to Drive Equitable Economic Progress (SDG Action Weekend, Acceleration Day, High Impact Initiatives)

Excellencies, colleagues, and friends.
This initiative aims to unlock the potential of nature to drive economic and social transformation. Well, nature has long been driving economic and social transformation. Or, more accurately, humanity has been using nature to drive these transformations.
Everything comes from nature. Not only the usual suspects of food, water, air and medicines. Virtually every object or substance we use, regardless of how much it has been processed, starts with nature or in nature.
But let us be clear. We are not using nature. We are using up nature. Driving nature and biodiversity to exhaustion and destruction. Natural capital has declined 40 per cent in two decades. Billions of hectares of land are degraded. Ecosystems and their services are faltering.
The foundation of our economies is trembling. Livelihoods, food security and, indeed, the whole of the sustainable development agenda, are suffering. If the foundation collapses, no amount of technology or human innovation will save us.
We need an urgent and radical shift: from using nature, to working with nature. To creating nature-centred economies that understand the difference between price and value, between price and cost. To prioritise nature-based solutions as a key enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
So, I applaud Brazil and Indonesia, from whom we have heard. By setting national economic pathways to sustainably use nature, these nations are showing leadership. And my thanks to France, who will shortly be introducing new tools to help drive the transition.
I call on other countries to join this initiative. Make their own commitments. And do whatever it takes to live in harmony with nature.
So, what will it take?
One, implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, or GBF
The GBF is the most ambitious plan for biodiversity. Ever. We need a whole-of-society, whole-of-economy approach to make it work. Financing is crucial. The GBF Fund was launched in August. I encourage all potential donors to contribute and find other innovative ways to finance the goals of the GBF.
Change will also come from domestic policy. Policies on subsidies that lead to overuse of water, land and species. Policies on limiting fragmentation of ecosystems. Policies on net-positive and resilient agriculture, and circular food systems that tackle food loss and waste.
Biodiversity is everywhere: from the farmer’s field to cities. We need to think and act holistically.
Two, accounting for nature
As I said, natural capital is falling, but governments can point to GDP growth and say everything is rosy. Business can point to profits and say everything is rosy. Everything isn’t rosy. It won’t be, as long as we keep ignoring the damage our current economic models cause to nature.
Target 14 of the GBF calls for the integration of biodiversity and its values into policies and national accounting. The UN Secretary General has issued a call to go beyond GDP. We need to answer these calls. And take concrete action based on these measurements.
Three, taking holistic action across the triple planetary crisis
This initiative on nature is great. But it will not solve the problems on its own. Everything is connected. For example, climate change is a major driver of nature and biodiversity loss, so we must meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Pollution is another driver, so we must deliver a strong deal to end plastic pollution. A zero draft of the deal is on the table for negotiation in November. As with everything else, this deal must deliver economic shifts that cut off impacts on nature and biodiversity at source. This means designing out plastics, not just trying to avoid or mitigate the pollution aspect through recycling.
To live in harmony with nature, we need to meet all international environmental commitments and take actions that deliver multiple benefits.
This initiative also aims to increase UN support to countries transiting to sustainable management and use of nature. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the wider UN is committed to providing this support.
UN agencies have promised to mainstream biodiversity into their work through the Common Approach to Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions. Momentum is yet to build, however. So, I call on UN agencies to do more, whether through concessional lending or grant-based programming that accounts for dependencies on nature.
UN support to national biodiversity action plans – through UNEP, the UN Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility – needs to be aligned with national development planning and budgets. And it needs to consider risks, which is why the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has a role to play. The UN system must also do more to align through country team approaches.
In addition to sustainably using nature, we must also bring back what has been lost. This is why UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization and others are supporting commitments to restore one billion hectares of land under the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.
Look, we all agree that we are off track to achieve the SDGs and goals on climate, biodiversity and pollution. That the right to a healthy environment remains a worthy aspiration rather than reality. None of this will change unless we transform our relationship with nature.
Can we do this? Of course, we can. But it all starts with understanding that nature is not an endless fuel to stoke the engines of economic growth. That humanity does not stand above or apart from nature. We are part of nature. It is time to start behaving like it.

Do you agree?

24 more agrees trigger contact with the recipient

  • Bel Jacobs

    32 w

    I run a climate Centre in north London and citizens feel desperate and disempowered. Thoughts gratefully received

    • Majdi Alnajjar

      37 w

      Responsible commitment 💡

      • Rashid Kamau

        38 w

        Great initiative to unlock the potential of nature to drive economic and social transformation.

        Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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