Philanthropy alone cannot save nature – governments must act – POLITICO


Hansjörg Wyss is a Swiss businessman and philanthropist and co-owner of Chelsea FC.

Resolving the crisis nature is facing is daunting. In the coming months we will see whether governments are really up to the task.

For my part, I’m optimistic that we can rise to the challenge, but policy leaders must actually commit to accelerating the pace of conservation this year and investing significant and meaningful public funds. Promises alone cannot save nature – it is time for governments to act.

Inspired by the wonders of nature — and motivated by the fear of losing the wild places I love — I have pledged a significant portion of my fortune to protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

This commitment is a promise to future generations that I will do whatever it takes to leave them a world as vibrant and glorious as the one into which I was born.

Meanwhile, for years we have seen leaders make lofty speeches about nature’s fundamental role in combating climate change and as a building block of the global economy. We can expect to hear the same thing at this week’s UN General Assembly, which will be quickly followed in December by the pandemic-delayed UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal. But such promises to protect biodiversity are often worth little more than the words on a teleprompter.

Under the status quo, a million species face extinction, many within decades, and much of the Earth’s surface has been heavily modified by humans.

This is not just a problem for rare species and distant landscapes – biodiversity loss poses significant risks to human prosperity and security. The World Bank estimates that the status quo will cost the global economy through the loss of economic services provided by nature such as pollination, fresh water and marine fisheries $2.7 trillion annually by 2030.

Talk is cheap, but nature’s inaction becomes prohibitively expensive.

And while there is no silver bullet, no single action to protect biodiversity, we know that reversing the loss of nature will require significant resource mobilization.

Among these resources, philanthropy has been the spearhead over the past half decade, significantly boosting private investment in biodiversity conservation.

As far as I’m concerned Made my promise in 2018 Donating $1 billion to catalyze a global push to meet the 30×30 conservation goal. And a year ago, I upped that commitment to $1.5 billion, join other philanthropists who collectively committed $5 billion to nature before the end of the decade.

So far, it has been private donors who are driving this movement, working with the 100+ nations that have already supported the science-based 30×30 goal, including biodiverse countries like Colombia, Peru and Australia. But private investment and public commitments are far from enough.

Stopping species extinction and habitat loss will take more – more resources, more collaboration, more action.

In the past I have urged other philanthropists to confront the biodiversity crisis head-on, and many have nailed the moment. Now governments must do the same.

Protecting 30 percent of the Earth’s surface requires one annual investment of US$140 billion by 2030 – in comparison, the world currently spends $24 billion on protecting protected areas.

However, this increased investment accounts for just 0.16 percent of global GDP and would account for less than a quarter of what governments spend annually on subsidies for industries that destroy nature, such as mining and fossil fuel development.

There are reasons for optimism. Canada invests more than $2 billion over five years to meet his government’s goal of protecting 30 percent of Canadian territory by 2030. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to another $1 billion over the same period on biodiversity conservation projects in developing countries.

Others should follow Canada’s example and dig much deeper into their pockets. These new public resources could support the creation and long-term management of national parks, marine reserves, and indigenous sanctuaries—the most effective conservation strategy.

We know that when plants and animals are given the space to heal and when local communities are given the tools and trust to manage natural areas sustainably, plants and animals return. The world has witnessed the wonders firsthand resettlement Yellowstone with wolves, jaguars return to Argentina’s Iberá National Park and to elephants thrive again in Akagera National Park in Rwanda.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of such examples of nature’s amazing ability to recover, and I am still in awe of its resilience. But it will take governments of all countries to work with indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society and philanthropy to identify, secure and fund new protected areas.

The costs of inaction are too great to even consider. Instead, let’s ensure that much more of our amazing planet is protected for the future.


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