2. The Future of Nature and Business

The second report of the New Nature Economy series, The Future of Nature and Business, provides the insights needed for businesses to take leadership in shifting towards a nature-positive economy.

The Covid-19 crisis presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform the way we eat, live, grow, build and power our lives to achieve a carbon neutral, nature-positive economy and halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

15 nature-positive transitions could generate up to $10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030.

The report identifies three socio-economic systems - food, land and ocean use; infrastructure and the built environment; and extractives and energy – as driving the largest threats to biodiversity, endangering almost 80% of the total threatened and near-threatened species (on the IUCN red list). These systems, therefore, have a significant opportunity and responsibility to reverse nature loss.

Together these systems represent over a third of the global economy and provide up to two-thirds of all jobs, and have a tremendous amount to gain by embracing change now.

The Future of Nature and Business sets out how 15 transitions across the three systems can form the blueprint of action for nature-positive pathways to halt nature loss.

Transforming three systems for a nature-positive economy

Food, land and ocean use

From nature-destructive…

The global food, land and ocean use system (including the full supply chain) represents around US$10 trillion of GDP (12% of global GDP) and up to 40% of employment. At an estimated US$12 trillion, the hidden costs of the system now exceed its contribution to global GDP.

…to nature-positive

Transforming the food, land and ocean use system could create almost US$3.6 trillion of additional annual revenues or cost savings, while creating 191 million new jobs by 2030.

This transformation would require six transitions:

  • Ecosystem restoration and avoided land and ocean use expansion.
  • Productive and regenerative agriculture.
  • Healthy and productive ocean.
  • Sustainable management of forests.
  • Planet-compatible consumption.
  • Transparent and sustainable supply chains.

Infrastructure and the built environment

From nature-destructive…

With an estimated 40% of global GDP originating from the built environment, this system is of crucial importance to the global economy.

The footprint of the built environment has increased by 66% in the first 12 years of this century. Still, every week until 2030, around 1.5 million people will be added to cities

…to nature-positive

Five complementary socio-economic transitions can address related biodiversity risks and create over US$3 trillion of additional annual revenues or cost savings and create 117 million jobs by 2030.

These transitions are:

  • Compact built environment.
  • Nature-positive infrastructure design.
  • Planet-compatible urban utilities.
  • Nature as infrastructure.
  • Nature-positive connecting infrastructure.

Energy and extractives

From nature-destructive…

Accounting for an estimated 23% of global GDP and 16% of employment, the extraction, production, manufacturing and generation of energy and materials is a major threat to biodiversity.

Mining utilises under 1% of global land areabut its negative externalities – air pollution and carbon emissions – equate to at US$9 trillion annually or around 10.5% of global GDP.

…to nature-positive

The annual business opportunities in this system are estimated at US$3.5 trillion and could create 87 million jobs by 2030.

The four key transitions needed are:

  • Circular and resource-efficient models of production.
  • Nature-positive metals and mineral extraction.
  • Sustainable materials supply chains.
  • Energy transition away from fossil fuels.

The report has been prepared in collaboration with AlphaBeta. Its findings inform the working priorities of the Nature Action Agenda’s Champions for Nature, a community of leaders disrupting business-as-usual to lead the way to a nature-positive global economy and halt nature loss by 2030.

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