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How can Davos accelerate COP15 momentum on nature and biodiversity?

Halting and reversing biodiversity loss is a collective responsibility. Davos 2023

Halting and reversing biodiversity loss is a collective responsibility. Image: Freepik.

Akanksha Khatri
Head, Nature and Biodiversity, World Economic Forum
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Climate and Nature

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • The UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 ended in Montreal on 19th December 2022 with a landmark deal to protect and restore nature.
  • The Paris Agreement for nature will be translated to national and sector-level plans, requiring corporates, financial institutions and investors to take concrete actions.
  • The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting can support these outcomes and accelerate momentum on the critical issue of nature and biodiversity.

At the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 which ended in Montreal on 19 December 2022, the world agreed to a landmark deal to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect Indigenous rights.

A clear global goal to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 was agreed by 196 parties. Just like the Paris Agreement for climate action, all parts of society must be mobilized and businesses have a key role to play.

However, currently only 5% of companies have assessed their impacts on nature, with less than 1% understanding their dependencies. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) will be translated to national and sector-level plans and will require corporates, financial institutions and investors to take concrete actions. The World Economic Forum’s whitepaper, The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and What it Means for Business, introduces the most business-relevant aspects, including target 3, 15 and 18, agreed in the framework.

Extract of target 3, 15 and 18 from Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Source: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Extract of target 3, 15 and 18 from Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Image: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

How can we meet the targets of the Global Biodiversity Framework?

The real work begins now, with additional importance given the challenging global context. The last set of Aichi biodiversity targets (2010-20) were not met. To ensure that GBF targets for 2030 are mainstreamed, the following three steps are critical:

1. Embed nature and biodiversity into business and financial decision making

Regulators, investors, consumers and broader society are increasingly focused on accountability. Businesses must take action now.

Several nature-related reporting standards and measurement methodologies are currently being developed. The recent CEO briefing, Measuring Nature-Positive Outcomes from Business Actions, provides a comprehensive overview of the available and evolving guidance, and highlights key action items businesses need to take today.

In addition, sector-specific guidance is needed to support businesses in translating the global goals into action. The Forum’s Sector Transitions to Nature Positive project will outline priority actions companies should take for four priority sectors: chemicals, consumer goods, construction materials, and meat, poultry and dairy.

2. Unlock public and private financing for conservation and restoration of critical ecosystems

The financial sector is beginning to take collective steps to support the global nature goals, but there is still a long way to go to bridge the financing gap of over $700 billion per year to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

The 10 point plan, announced in September 2022 by Ecuador, Gabon, Maldives and the UK, calls for larger contributions from multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions (IFIs) alongside other actions.

Biodiversity credits are one of the market-based financial mechanisms that can unlock private finance by valuing ecosystem services and community benefits, beyond carbon. While the potential for impact is high, clear definitions and guardrails are urgently needed to ensure integrity, inclusivity, and transparency.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about nature?

3. Ensure an equitable and just transition

A nature-positive (and net-zero) transition can have potential risks to marginalised groups, such as farmers, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples. We can learn a lot from Indigenous knowledge and experience, with 91% of their lands being in a good or fair ecological condition today. There is an opportunity to partner with communities to identify and scale context-specific solutions, as identified in a new World Economic Forum report, but the complexities around power imbalance, trust, knowledge transfer, gender roles, and cultural load must be carefully considered.

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What to look out for at Davos 2023

The Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos taking place this month, only one month after COP15, will sustain the momentum and mainstream nature in our economic and financial systems. Relevant discussions include:

  • 30x30 Ambition: 19th January at 17:30. Discussion on the economic approach and innovative financing arrangements needed to deliver on this bold ambition to protect at least 30% of Earth’s land and ocean by 2030.
  • Business Action in Nature: 19th January at 11:30. Panellists from leading corporate and capital markets will discuss how businesses from across industries and geographies can turn commitments to credible and effective actions.
  • Land Matters: 18th January at 15:00. Globally, 25% of land is already degraded, with increased risks from growing demand and extreme weather events. Discussion on integrated land management to provide for food, feed, fibre and fuel.

Halting and reversing nature loss is a collective responsibility from governments, cities, corporates, financial institutions, investors, civil society organizations as well as every citizen. This is a key part of the work of the Forum’s Champions for Nature community, which is committed to advancing a nature-positive economy and supporting the goals and targets of the GBF in the coming years.

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