Re-thinking and applying strategies to ‘move mountains’
It is a necessary - but incredibly difficult – task to direct private investments into nature conservation and the preservation of biodiversity. But there is emerging, encouraging evidence that it is possible to change the way the private sector looks at nature. The two worlds (and cultures) of conservation organisations and private investors rarely met before the new millennium and are only recently making each other’s acquaintance. The colourful newt on the cover page is a concerted effort to reference the role that nature plays in wealth generation, and symbolises a symbiosis between material wealth and biodiversity. This publication is about re-thinking and applying strategies to ‘move mountains’.
The ‘loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change’ noted one recent publication. The global economy depends heavily on functioning ecosystems for food, fuel, fibre, climate regulation, water resources, air quality and many other essential products and services. These vital links—or dependencies on nature—shape financial risks and business opportunities. But at the same time, these vital links can be severely undermined by unsustainable economic activities and are only rarely bolstered or rejuvenated by deliberate business or investment operations.
To prevent what scientists predict to be the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth and restore degraded ecosystems, systemic change is needed. This requires steering the day-today investment decisions of CEOs, investors, pension fund managers, and other finance stakeholders towards halting biodiversity loss, restoring and conserving natural resources, and promoting their sustainable use. This is what is required to implement SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life above water).
Unlocking private capital by engaging a variety of (new) investors into novel impact-oriented markets that value business opportunities in nature will lead to measurable beneficial impacts on the environment. This strategy is ultimately about the promotion of sustainable business practices by building alliances (e.g. EU Business & Biodiversity platform), promoting standards (e.g. the Forest Management Certification and Climate Bonds Initiative’s Land Conservation and Restoration Standards), and transforming value chains that impact biodiversity. This new focus is underpinned by innovative investment strategies (e.g. impact investing in forestry by GIIN) and vehicles and products (e.g. the Eco Enterprises Fund or TNC’s conservation notes) that produce quantifiable gains for biodiversity. Employing this strategy will require public-private collaborations that spur innovation and create sustainable markets.