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G20 must spend 140% more on nature-based solutions to fight climate change, says UN-WEF report

NbS involve practices like afforestation, forest restoration, conserving coral reefs, which can mitigate effects of climate change and help countries meet their biodiversity goals.

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New Delhi: A new report compiled by three leading international organisations estimates that investments by rich countries into nature-based solutions (NbS) actions to “protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems” would need to increase by 140 per cent by 2050 to meet their climate and biodiversity goals.

Current G20 investments into NbS — at USD 120 billion per year — are insufficient, says the report, which was jointly published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), World Economic Forum (WEF), and the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative, on 26 January.

“G20 countries would need to scale up their internal annual NbS spending by 140 per cent: an additional USD 165 billion, by 2050,” it says.

The G20 is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world’s major developed and emerging economies. The G20 countries include India, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

Nature-based solutions are one of several paths countries can take to mitigate the effects of climate change and meet their goals of improving biodiversity and increasing carbon sequestration. NbS would involve practices like afforestation, forest restoration, conserving coral reefs etc.

The report, titled ‘The state of finance for nature in the G20’, is the first of its kind, aimed at tracking NbS expenditure in G20 countries, and takes off from a 2021 report that called on high income countries to close up a USD 4.1-trillion financing gap in nature-based solutions, by 2030.

“Currently, only 11 per cent of NbS investments are private sector led. We need to move from treating NbS as a conservation issue to putting nature at the heart of the economic, trade and business transition,” Teresa Hartmann, Climate & Nature Lead at the World Economic Forum, said in a statement. 

However, nature-based solutions became a divisive topic at the United Nations’ COP26 summit last November, with several researchers, environmentalists, and civil society organisations pointing out that there is no clear definition of what activities constitute NbS. 

Critics also say that it could lead to carbon offsetting, which involves compensating for carbon emissions in one place, by investing in its sequestration elsewhere. 

Also Read: Covid, Quad, climate change among initiatives to act on in 2022 for India, US: White House

Private sector ‘low’ contributor to NbS investments

The report found that in 2020, G20 countries invested $120 billion into land-related NbS, which “represents 92 per cent of global annual NbS investment, broadly in line with the G20’s share of the global GDP of 80 per cent”.

Most of this, however, is spent on domestic government programmes and only a fraction — approximately USD 2.4 billion — is spent on official development assistance (ODA). ODA is defined as government aid that promotes and specifically targets the economic development and welfare of developing countries.

The private sector in G20 countries is also a “low” contributor to NbS investments, the report says, with a contribution of USD 14 billion. “There is a significant need for benchmarks, standards and markers to track public and private NbS investment. The estimates for G20 domestic and private investment are uncertain because countries and companies do not directly report their NbS spending,” it adds.

The report proposes investing NbS in developing countries, aligning “economic recovery post Covid-19 with both the Paris Agreement and future agreements on biodiversity,” and stimulating private investment through various policy incentives. 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: G20 falls short on key climate target, leaving it to COP26 to achieve breakthrough


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