A yearly investment of US$2.7 trillion in ecosystem health would reap an annual 400 million jobs and $10 trillion in returns through 2030, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, prompting the study authors to urge policy-makers to make restoration of the devastated natural world a cornerstone of all pandemic recovery efforts.
“The report warns that when the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic there can be no business-as-usual, with today’s destruction of the natural world threatening over half of global GDP,” writes The Guardian. A key message of the report from the WEF’s New Nature Economy project is that “a nature-first approach from business and political leaders will be a jobs-first solution.”
“There will be no jobs or prosperity on a dead planet,” said Unilever CEO and WEF partner Alan Jope. And such a threat looms large, warns the WEF: “We are reaching irreversible tipping points for nature and climate. If recovery efforts do not address the looming planetary crises, a critical window of opportunity to avoid their worst impact will be irreversibly lost.”
Critical to avoiding such a moment, say the report authors, will be a profoundly nature-oriented renovation of the three sectors most responsible for trashing the environment: food and land use, energy and mining, and infrastructure and building.
Acknowledging that such activity will lead to job losses for those working in business-as-usual industries, the report “urged governments to ensure people were retrained and that the transition to a green economy was fair to all,” adding that “$2.7 trillion of annual investment [will be] required to fund all the opportunities identified” in reorienting the world economy toward recovery and protection.
That sum, The Guardian notes, is “similar to the stimulus package announced by the U.S. in March.”
Akanksha Khatri, head of WEF’s Nature Action Agenda, said such an ecology-centric recovery can, and must, be people-powered. “Nature can provide the jobs our economies need. There is nothing stopping businesses and governments from implementing these plans today, at scale, to re-employ millions.”
As the status quo paradigm continues to send good money after bad, ceasing subsidies of climate-trashing industrial agriculture—currently racking up to the tune of $2 billion per day—will be critical to ecological recovery. Redeploying those dollars would help fund such things as improved wild fish stock management, which “could boost catches and add 14 million jobs and $170 billion in value,” notes The Guardian.
In buildings and infrastructure, the WEF reports that “retrofitting to increase energy efficiency could save $825 billion by 2030,” adding that “the market for urban green roofs is already worth $9 billion and could grow rapidly.”