V. The Road Forward
The natural world has always provided vital resources and inspiration to human societies. Somewhere, however, the balance tipped and nature became the object of exploitation. Today, not only are our lands and waters polluted and depleted, but the number and variety of plants and animals—the diversity of living things on Earth—is in serious decline. The intertwined biodiversity and climate crises threaten life on our planet as we know it.
We need to reinvest in our planet, but closing the nature funding gap is not just a matter of finding the money. It’s a matter of priority: what do we value most in the world? As our research shows, much of the funding we need to protect nature originates in the private sector; however, governments must set the conditions and incentives for that funding to flow in ways that generate nature-positive outcomes. In many ways our funding problem is a policy and regulatory problem.
The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is now scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, in 2021. As countries hash out the term of a “new deal for nature,” there has never been a better time for world governments to address these issues. Every solution outlined here will not work in every country, but leaders can identify those that are most appropriate for their countries and their economies to develop a plan that funds their commitments to nature. And collectively, we can create a finance plan for the planet.
When we succeed, the payoff will come in the form of natural resilience that benefits us all: greater food, water and economic security; a more stable climate; reduced risk of pandemics; and, not least of all, the intangible benefits nature brings to us every day. It is a small price to pay.