A new report is calling on the G20 to fund ‘Nature-based Solutions’ that address three main risks to humankind: biodiversity loss, climate change and global pandemics.
In the lead up to the G20 summit in Saudi-Arabia, the “Nexus Report: Nature Based Solutions to the Biodiversity and Climate Crisis”, co-authored by Professor Brendan Mackey Director of the Griffith University Climate Action Beacon, highlights the crucial need for increased protection and restoration schemes in tropical forests and coastal ecosystems.
“There’s a proven link between the current pandemics we are facing and biodiversity and climate change, and that nexus is forest conservation,” Professor Mackey said.
“Conservation of the most carbon-dense and biodiversity-rich forest ecosystems not only protect the biodiversity of plants and animals, it stores carbon in the trees and soil helping prevent global warming. Protecting tropical forest also acts as a natural quarantine zone, restricting the spillover of potentially harmful viruses from wildlife into human populations and livestock.”
He said COVID-19 had demonstrated the cost of imbalances between people and nature.
“Unfortunately, current economic stimulus packages launched by many G20 nations in response to the COVID-19 crisis could reinforce negative environmental trends, leading to further irreversible damage to both ecosystems and the climate, and to the possible outbreak of new pandemics.
“The members of the G20, constituting most of the world’s people, economic and trade activity, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, and COVID-19 cases – have a critical leadership role to play in ensuring this doesn’t happen.”
The report, commissioned by Foundation 20, Campaign for Nature and the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology (SEE), found that integrating Nature-Based Solutions as a core element of G20 nations economic stimulus packages is the most promising pathway to achieving the G20 summit’s key objective of safeguarding the planet.
“The economic impacts of the pandemic are severe. Stimulus packages are therefore indispensable – but they need to be to be based on sustainability and climate action to help avoid dangerous climate change, increase the resilience of our societies and help avoid future pandemics,” said Professor Li Zhang, Secretary General of SEE.
Professor Mackey said that the opportunity remains for the G20 leadership to turn Nature-based Solutions into an integrated multi-lateral response.
“Our report provides guidance on how Nature Based Solutions can provide “triple win” solutions by addressing this nexus of climate crisis, biodiversity extinctions and pandemics.”
The report recommends the G20 sends a strong message to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on the need for more effective cooperation in adoption and scaling of Nature-based Solutions as a multi-purpose solution for climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as the conservation of biological diversity.
“To achieve this triple win, global leaders must secure an agreement at the UN biodiversity conference, CBD COP 15, to protect at least 30 percent of our planet’s land and seas by 2030 and set a concrete and ambitious restoration target,” said Brian O’Donnell, Director, Campaign for Nature.