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Countries need to find $700 billion to reverse human destruction of nature

Christian Fernsby |
That was the message of UN agencies during a pledging conference for governments, businesses and philanthropic organisations to bolster financial commitments for the protection and restoration of nature on Monday.

In 2019, these actors spent between $124 and $143 billion per year on activities that benefit nature worldwide, according to recent analysis by the The Nature Conservancy, the Paulson Institute and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

But the research estimated to halt the destruction of plants and animals and restore nature, the world needs to mobilise an additional $600 to $824 billion a year.

Despite calls on governments and businesses to significantly step up contributions to halt the decline of plants and wildlife, only a handful of European countries committed to increase their financial flows to protect nature. The rest of the world remained silent.

“We currently spend less than $100 billion a year on nature – about what we spend on pet food globally,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UN Development Programme, which organised the event.

$700 billion annually is “less than 1% of global GDP and only a fraction of the $5.2 trillion that we spend on fossil fuel subsidies every year, even this year,” he said.

Elizabeth Mrema, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), said financing to meet the biodiversity goals needed to come “from all actors” and hoped the event “will motivate further deliberations and especially commitments to help close the the biodiversity funding gap,” she said.

Development minister Gerd Müller said Germany will increase its €500 million annual investment in protecting biodiversity in developing countries.

He announced the launch of a joint initiative with public and private funders called the Legacy Landscape Fund to leverage long-term financing for protected areas in developing countries. Many lack financial mechanisms to protect nature, he said.

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