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Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties (CBD COP15) in 2020 marks a critical juncture for one of the defining global challenges of our time: the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, which underpin nearly all of the Sustainable Development Goals. Transformative changes are needed to ensure biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and the delivery of the ecosystem services upon which all life depends.

This report sets the economic and business case for urgent and ambitious action on biodiversity. It presents a preliminary assessment of current biodiversity-related finance flows, and discusses the key data and indicator gaps that need to be addressed to underpin effective monitoring of both the pressures on biodiversity and the actions (i.e. responses) being implemented.

The report concludes with ten priority areas where G7 and other countries can prioritise their efforts.

The report was prepared by the OECD for the French G7 Presidency and the G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting, 5-6 May 2019.

From the report:

The costs of inaction on biodiversity loss are high. Between 1997 and 2011, the world lost an estimated USD 4-20 trillion per year in ecosystem services owing to land-cover change and USD 6-11 trillion per year from land degradation. Action to halt and subsequently reverse biodiversity loss needs to be scaled up dramatically and urgently. Biodiversity protection is fundamental to achieving food security, poverty reduction and more inclusive and equitable development.

The opportunities for restoration are vast. Globally, up to 6 billion hectares of land are degraded (i.e. 20 times the size of France). Ecosystem restoration can bring species back from the brink of extinction, reverse the trends in ecosystem decline and help overcome major societal challenges, such as climate change, disaster risk and achieving inclusive economic growth.

Restoration can deliver multiple benefits. Restored mangroves, for example, can protect society from storms, hurricanes and coastal erosion, sequester carbon, provide a nursery ground for fish, offer a source of fuel and support ecotourism.

Recognising the multiple benefits of ecosystem restoration, governments and businesses have committed to this goal through several high-level global initiatives (e.g. the Bonn Challenge) and international agreements (e.g. SDG 15 and Land Degradation Neutrality under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification).

The benefits of restoration can far exceed the costs, particularly for inland and coastal wetlands, grasslands and forests. For example, achieving the Bonn Challenge target of restoring 46% of the world’s degraded forests could provide USD 7-30 in benefits for every dollar spent. The net benefits depend on the objectives, degree of degradation, and ecosystem type and location, as well as the opportunity costs. In general, preventing the degradation and loss of an ecosystem is more cost-effective than restoring it.

Restoration can also offer new economic and business opportunities. In the United States, for example, restoration work provides direct employment to an estimated 126 000 workers and generates USD 9.5 billion annually in economic output.

Restoration action at a landscape scale can help maximise synergies and manage potential trade-offs between ecosystem services, as well as balance competing demands for land or ocean resources. It is important, therefore, to integrate restoration into broader land-use and marine spatial planning. Large-scale restoration should be an inclusive process, requiring the participation of a range of stakeholders, such as local and indigenous communities, local and national governments, and the private sector.

Read the full report

OECD (2019), Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action, report prepared for the G7
Environment Ministers’ Meeting, 5-6 May 2019. 

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