The COVID-19 pandemic has created greater awareness about the interconnectedness and fragility of our natural ecosystems. Natural capital such as forests, soils, water, and air are cornerstones of healthy ecosystems upon which food security, nutrition, human and animal health depend.
To address the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, broken food systems, deforestation and land degradation, we need massive public and private investment in science-driven nature-based solutions and the active engagement of all stakeholders, including local communities, women and youth. In its ‘roadmap for recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Council indicates that the green transition is one of three key strategic action areas requiring investment to build a more resilient, sustainable and fair Europe.
There is an urgent need to unleash private sector capital with catalytic public sector investment, to meet the finance gap required to achieve zero emission targets. According to a recent report by UNEP, if the world is to meet the global climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation targets, it needs to close a USD 4.1 trillion financing gap in nature by 2050. The current investments in nature-based solutions amount to USD 133 billion, mostly coming from public sources.
We urgently need to increase investment in high-quality nature-based solutions as they currently receive only a small proportion of existing climate-mitigation financing, which does not reflect their importance or full potential.
Nature-based solutions are crucial not only because they can deliver up to one third of the reductions needed in greenhouse gas emissions, but also because they have benefits in conserving biodiversity and strengthening the resilience of local communities. Furthermore, recent estimates suggest that nature-based solutions focusing on reforestation and afforestation could generate USD 800 billion in annual revenues by 2050 (Vivid Economics 2020). In a nutshell, scaling up investments in nature-based solutions and stepping up their implementation is the best insurance policy of all (Science for Environment Policy, European Commission, 2021).
Unprecedented global attention is now given to the importance of nature-based solutions in the effort to build back better following the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, strong commitments have been made by the G20 countries to accelerate efforts toward the achievement of their Net Zero targets. Meanwhile, companies are moving from cosmetic Corporate Social Responsibility commitments to genuine interest in investing in carbon footprint reductions and addressing supply chain challenges.
Looking forward, evidence suggests that there will be a substantial increase in future private sector finance for nature, which may help reduce the biodiversity financing gap to around USD 327 billion (The Little Book on Investing in Nature, 2021). To achieve this, it is key that all stakeholders including government agencies, development institutions, and farmers work together to develop collaborative approaches to the stewardship of natural capital.
Resilient Landscapes is a new ambitious initiative created by CIFOR-ICRAF. Resilient Landscapes develops science-backed business cases for investment in nature-based solutions and forges strategic alliances among companies, financial investors, governments, and farmers to promote investments towards zero-carbon, biodiversity conservation, and the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) across landscapes and agricultural commodity supply chains.
Its mission is to massively scale up investments and impact in nature-based solutions across landscapes and agricultural commodity supply chains by leveraging science and evidence; mobilizing private finance; facilitating long-term public-private partnerships; ensuring Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) compliance; and assessing and managing risks for all involved stakeholders.
The initiative undertakes design of scalable, sound, investable projects with high impact potential based on detailed technical, social and environmental analysis and scientific research and evidence. Its projects are co-designed and co-located with the public sector, private sector and local communities to attract a win-win investment portfolio. Moreover, Resilient Landscapes advises on ESG metrics and assist with sustainability and climate-risk reporting.
To date, Resilient Landscapes has already embarked on three transformative projects:
Papua New Guinea: Managalas Forest, Oro Province