The Future of Nature and Business - World Economic Forum

By Kevin Boon


This is the second in a series of reports from The World Economic Forum (WEF) New Nature Economy project, the first being Nature Risk Rising that was published in January 2020.

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There is no future for business as usual. We are reaching irreversible tipping points for nature and climate, and over half of the global GDP – around £33.5 trillion – is potentially threatened by destruction of nature.  Businesses, through their operations and supply chains, directly impact nature. Whether through changes in land or marine use, overexploitation or pollution, their activities can have long-lasting harmful consequences for nature and humankind.

Responding to the profound social and economic crises looming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a reset of how we live, produce and consume if we are to achieve a resilient, carbon neutral, nature-positive economy and halt biodiversity loss. This reset requires decoupling our well-being from resource consumption.  The report identifies opportunities to achieve this which add up globally to £7.7 trillion in annual business value and have the potential to create 395 million jobs by 2030.

The Future of Nature and Business - World Economic Forum

The ever-expanding footprint of farming, fishing and ranching is unsustainable. We need to rapidly transform systems to achieve ecosystem restoration and avoid land and ocean use expansion. Our land use system would significantly benefit from a fundamental shift towards productive and regenerative agriculture. Both fisheries and forests need to be sustainably managed. In the context of increasing global population we must transition towards a planet-compatible level of consumption through transparent and sustainable supply chains.

To achieve nature-positive infrastructure and built environment requires protecting critical ecosystems and compact development. It means shifting towards nature-positive infrastructure design. Sustainable urban utilities to manage pollution and waste are needed as well as nature-positive connecting infrastructure for transport. 

The Future of Nature and Business - World Economic Forum

Nature-positive extraction of minerals and metals as well as energy systems requires resource-efficient models of production. A circular economy must be promoted by encouraging recycling, refurbishing and renting. Energy transition must balance climate benefits against biodiversity.

Conclusion – Achieving these transitions cannot be done through business action alone. Success will require both policy and regulation from governments and shifts in habits and social norms from citizens. 

The report estimates the capital investment required to capture opportunities between 2020 and 2030 to be around £2.1 trillion annually. In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we need a commitment to build back better.

To read the report, follow this link.