There has never been a better time to restore nature

Nature’s intrinsic value is increasingly becoming visible to the world’s policy makers, global corporations and investors. There are clear signs that nature is taking centre-stage on the global agenda:

  • Nature was recognised as a critical pathway to achieving global climate goals at COP26
  • Global goals for nature will be set at the upcoming Convention of Biological Diversity COP15
  • The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure is codifying ways for the financial and business community to manage and report on nature-related risk

In the words of the G7 Finance Ministers, ‘our world must not only become net-zero, but also nature-positive’. We explore the shift towards nature-positive investments, policies and practices and the compelling new opportunities this will create for the teams restoring nature.

A nature-positive movement

More than half of the world’s economy (US $44 trillion) is moderately or highly dependent on nature. Yet nature loss is occurring globally, with biodiversity declining faster than any moment in human history. Of the eight million plant and animal species on earth, one million species are threatened by extinction due to habitat destruction and our changing climate.

Nature loss is now a systemic threat to the world’s economic, political and societal structures with far reaching consequences. Recognising this, the world is moving beyond ‘net zero’ and towards a ‘nature-positive’ future - a commitment to reverse nature loss by 2030 and achieve full recovery by 2050.

Source: Nature Positive, 2021

Three reasons why now is time to restore nature:

1 - Funding for nature restoration is on the rise

The flow of private capital funding nature restoration is accelerating.

If we are to meet our global goal for nature, investments into nature will need to ramp up to US$8.1 trillion by 2050. Funding nature-based solutions that deliver positive environmental outcomes are unavoidable if we’re to meet this financing gap. Institutional investors, funds and corporates alike have already started executing nature-positive strategies. The Bezos Earth Fund’s $2 billion commitment to nature, alongside pledges from Nestle, PepsiCo and Salesforce are early examples of private capital being funnelled into nature-positive action.

Carbon markets

Restoring nature for carbon removal and storage is the most cost effective and scalable mechanism available for carbon removal today. Projects that harness nature for this objective are therefore well positioned to capitalise on a voluntary carbon market that’s expected to reach US $50 billion by 2030.

Emerging nature markets

There is also growing demand for nature-related outcomes beyond carbon. This is making space for emerging nature markets and a growing pool of private capital for those seeking to restore ecosystem services beyond carbon alone. Nature-based project operators will soon be incentivised to validate water, air or biodiversity net-gain improvements generated through regenerative land management activities.

These additional progress metrics will deliver exciting new revenue opportunities for indigenous communities and the teams driving ecological restoration.

2 - Policy is moving in the right direction

The political will to restore nature is also building.

  • Governments in over 93 countries across all regions have recently endorsed the Leaders Pledge for Nature.
  • There are at least 37 countries with national biodiversity offset policies.
  • France’s Article 29 of the law on Energy and Climate has made both climate and biodiversity reporting mandatory for financial institutions.

Forming in June 2021, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TFND) also cements nature’s spot on the global agenda. Taking learnings from its climate counterpart (the Taskforce on Climate Financial Disclosure), the TFND is a market-led approach endorsed by major financial institutions, corporates and governments.

The culmination of this progress will be a new global framework and goal for nature, agreed at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 later this year.

As global corporations work to manage their exposure to climate and nature-related risks, teams restoring high quality nature assets will be in hot demand as key partners to support ambitious mitigation strategies.

Source: S&P Global, 2021

As global corporations work to understand and mitigate their exposure to climate and nature-related risks - teams restoring nature assets all over the world will be called upon to supply answers to science-backed mitigation strategies.

3 - Technology is reducing costs and enabling scale

Ecosystem stewards now have access to tools that support the delivery of quality nature assets demanded by the market.

In the past, managing and reporting on nature-based outcomes has been a costly affair for any team restoring nature. However, recent innovations in remote sensing and data management technologies like Cecil have opened new opportunities to deliver projects on budget.

Technology is enabling teams to implement nature-positive activities at scale by:

  • lowering the cost of transparent measurement, reporting and verification of nature assets
  • contextualising fragmented nature data sets to better support real-time decision making
  • enabling multi-stakeholder engagement and lowering information asymmetry between sellers and buyers
  • delivering relevant nature-based reporting

Whilst challenges remain for important areas such as biodiversity measurement, the pace of innovation is accelerating in favour of those currently managing nature assets and projects.

Not if, but how fast

Nature is complex. Embedding nature into the our economic structures will require a systems level approach that internalises nature’s nuance and values planetary health as whole.

The shift towards a nature-positive economy is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘how fast’ we can move to meet the magnitude of our joint climate and nature crises. Despite clear challenges ahead, a road of exciting opportunity awaits for teams leading this global restoration movement.

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