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Can protecting the natural world actually boost business?

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum

Protecting the living world isn’t just a necessity for protecting our future but research has also shown the vast economic benefits of doing so.

The current rate of destruction is costing the economy trillions of dollars every year and the main drivers behind this are population growth. The population growth and over consumerism is causing the loss of habitat and destroying eco systems.

If you saw David Attenborough’s recent documentary, bleakly entitled ‘Extinction’, we see Scientists telling us what they’ve told us for years that biodiversity is being lost at an astonishing rate. Now it is at an unprecedented level (That word unprecedented is all too familiar these days.)

Of the 8 million species in the world a million are now threatened with extinction. This is happening at 100 times the natural evolutionary rate and is now accelerating.

The population is increasing by roughly 80 million each year which means by 2050 we could see the need for 70% more food, depleting the worlds limited resources.

Photo by Stiven Gaviria

The World Economic Forum concluded in a recent study that business is so dependent on nature that over half the world’s GDP is at risk. The report states that ‘80% of threatened species are endangered by business-related pressures from food, land and ocean use; infrastructure and the built environment; and energy and extractive industries. Together, these activities represent over a third of the global economy and provide up to two-thirds of all jobs, meaning they have the most to gain by embracing change now, the forum believes.’

The WEF estimates that more sustainable ocean management and fishing could open up $40 billion of business opportunities in the maritime sector. Other areas of opportunity include diversifying diets away from meat; smart farming technologies; refurbishing and recycling clothing; smart buildings and energy efficiency; reducing water leakage; and mining techniques using processes that remove the need for toxic chemicals and cut water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

This focus from the WEF on nature and the biodiversity issue is hugely significant and we are finally seeing an urgency to make businesses understand their impact on the natural world and how diversifying now is not only essential for the future of our planet but can also have great economic advantage for them. As consumers also become more aware and more educated of this impact the light is being shone on how businesses are run and the transparency of supply chains.

China’s president Xi Jinping announced this week that - "We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060." China is the world's biggest source of carbon dioxide and is responsible for around 28% of global emissions. We are seeing some significant steps in the right direction from governments and hopefully some major implementation to be announced in the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

It seems clear for business and government that the investment into protecting nature far outweighs the cost to our economy of allowing further destruction to bio diversity.

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