The Business Case For Nature Is Being Made At World Economic Forum

WEF Report Nature Risk Rising Front Cover

A new report entitled “Nature Risk Rising: Why the Crisis Engulfing Nature Matters for Business and the Economy” that was just released to coincide with the start of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum makes it clear that businesses are more dependent on nature than previously thought, with approximately $44 trillion of economic value generation moderately or highly dependent on nature. Of the sectors dependent on nature, the report states that building and construction, agriculture, and food and beverages are all highly dependent on a functioning natural environment — and that value of these nature-dependent sectors globally is estimated at roughly twice the size of Germany’s economy.

Why This Matters:  As if we needed more reasons why we should save nature, now the World Economic Forum’s experts make it clear that it is in the world’s financial interest to do so.  And the bigger a country’s economy, the more important a functioning natural world is to it  — China, the EU, and the US have the most to lose because they are the most dependent on nature for their prosperity.  The Acting Secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, told The Guardian that if we continue to destroy the ecosystems that sustain our lives and livelihoods such as coral reefs and rain forests, we humans are at risk of living on an “empty world” with “catastrophic” consequences for society.  This is why she and other world leaders are calling for a global agreement to protect 30% of the planet by 2030.  

The Report’s Major Findings:

  • An analysis of 163 industry sectors and their supply chains found that over half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services such as pollination, water quality, and disease control.
  • And according to the latest science, about 25% of our assessed plant and animal species are threatened by human actions, with a million species facing extinction, many within decades.
  • The three largest nature-dependent industries are: construction valued at $4 trillion, agriculture valued at $2.5 trillion, and food and beverages valued at $1.4 trillion.
  • In addition, the report found that many other industries have significant “hidden dependencies” on nature in their supply chain and may be more at risk of disruption than expected.
  • There are six industries that have over 50% of their supply chains that are either highly or moderately nature-dependent, including chemicals and materials; aviation, travel and tourism; real estate; mining and metals; supply chain and transport; and retail, consumer goods and lifestyle.

Maruma Mrema said, “People’s lives depend on biodiversity in ways that are not always apparent or appreciated. Human health ultimately depends on ecosystem services: the availability of freshwater, fuel, food sources. All these are prerequisites for human health and livelihoods,” in her first major interview since taking over the helm of the CBD.

To Go Deeper:  Read the full report here.

Graphic: World Economic Forum and PWC UK

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