Investments in nature, ecosystems deliver tangible benefits
July 25 2021 12:22 AM

Some six years ago, in Paris, leaders from as many as 192 nations committed to limit the increase of global average temperatures since pre-industrial levels to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to stay within 1.5°C. 
Today, some 131 countries, responsible for 73% of global emissions, have now adopted or are considering net-zero emission targets – and these targets have put the Paris Agreement’s goals within reach. 
But, according to the World Economic Forum, achieving those goals will require every country to take what it terms “a unique path”. And many will require financial support to deploy new technologies, protect natural storehouses of carbon, and help communities adapt to the changes that are already underway.
Climate finance stands as one of the critical pillars for global efforts to combat the climate crisis. Financing a rapid transition to a net-zero emission, climate-resilient economy will require significantly more investment, investment in a different set of assets, and investment that addresses the humanitarian imperative of social inclusion and poverty alleviation, World Economic Forum says.
Investments in nature and ecosystems can also deliver tangible benefits beyond their value as a climate tool. These approaches often help to secure livelihoods for local people, for example. 
A recent report by McKinsey highlights the return-on-investment of protecting nature versus other approaches. As one example, it notes that coral reefs reduce wave energy and thus protect nearly 200mn people in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere from extreme storm damage. 
The alternative – constructing artificial storm barriers – would cost roughly 15 times more than simply protecting or restoring the reefs.
Natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands and oceans, do a pretty good job of storing carbon and supporting biodiversity as well. It’s therefore no surprise that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) – actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, for the benefit of people and nature – are being widely discussed by NGOs, multi-stakeholder platforms and coalitions of countries as “win-win” solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. 
But experts argue implementing NbS alone is not enough. 
Their success or failure ultimately depends on the extent to which the world transitions to healthier, more sustainable planet-based diets.
The connection between NbS and dietary patterns comes down to land. Land-use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance and may be the single most pressing environmental issue of our day. 
Nature-positive farming methods are often promoted as a way to feed humanity while reducing the environmental impact of food production. 
We also need land to plant trees – and we need to plant lots of them! 
Tree planting has been promoted as another important NbS because trees can absorb and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, which is critical in our fight against climate change. 
In several studies, reforestation is offered as the most promising solution for storing carbon, including the potential to store up to 200 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon – two-thirds of all the carbon released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution – but only if a trillion trees are planted!

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