A simple guide to financing life on Earth

The Little Book of Investing in Nature provides an essential overview of the area of biodiversity finance at a time when governments and international negotiators are urgently seeking pragmatic solutions for the twin crises of climate change and the loss of nature.

Financing the protection for our natural world is a challenge that governments around the world have struggled to meet. Current estimates suggest there is a global shortfall of USD 824 billion. But The Little Book of Investing in Nature provides a simple guide for policy makers and investors as to how this shortfall can be overcome.

As The Little Book reflects, recognition that more than half of global GDP depends on nature has fuelled greater ambition to protect our forests, oceans, grasslands and wetlands. New targets for biodiversity protection for the 2021-2030 period are expected to be agreed by global leaders at a UN Summit later this year (COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity).

This book provides a simple guide for governments and policy makers involved in setting those targets on how biodiversity protection can be financed. It brings together information on a range of innovative financial products and services developed by both the public and the private sectors seeking to shift investment away from activities that damage nature (nature-negative) towards more nature-positive activities.

The evidence presented suggests that there will be a substantial increase in future private sector finance for nature, which may help reduce the biodiversity financing gap to some USD 327 billion.

Closing the biodiversity financing gap will require that chief executives and national leaders rethink their approach to nature and work towards transforming both public and private finance, redirecting funding away from nature-negative activities, such as intensive agriculture or fossil fuel developments, and seeking nature-positive investment opportunities, for example in green energy and natural infrastructure, protecting nature while supporting economic growth.

Figures, calculated for The Little Book of Investing in Nature, show that we currently spend more than USD 1 trillion of public money on subsidies to economic sectors that harm biodiversity – five times the amount spent on protecting nature.

This amount is a fraction of the money invested by the private sector in activities that damage nature – from the money spent on expanding cattle ranches into the Amazon to investments in industrial fishing fleets that deplete our oceans of fish stocks. But if just some of this investment was redirected towards nature-positive activities, it could provide the finance needed to support life on Earth.

The Little Book identifies clear steps towards generating, delivering and realigning this finance for biodiversity, as well as highlighting the need to avoid investments in activities that damage the natural resources we depend on. It features more than 40 mechanisms and 25 case studies illustrating how governments, banks and NGOs – and sometimes combinations of all three – are driving transformation, reflecting the recent growth in the technical expertise and energy that is being directed towards efforts to value nature appropriately and pay for its conservation.

Ultimately, The Little Book makes a convincing case that resetting the global economy in such a way as to protect life on Earth is not only possible but critical.

The Little Book of Investing in Nature is also available in French.

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Banner image: Indigenous couple in the Andes, Stocksy

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