3. Seizing Business Opportunities in China’s Transition Towards a Nature-positive Economy

The third in the World Economic Forum’s New Nature Economy Report Series, Seizing Business Opportunities in China’s Transition Towards a Nature-positive Economy, sets out the potential of investing in nature for Chinese society and businesses.

China has an urgent need and unique opportunity to shift its economic activities towards a nature-positive trajectory. China is the world’s second-largest economy and one of the most biodiverse countries in the world but two thirds of its GDP is at risk of disruption from nature loss.

This report outlines 15 nature-positive business transitions that can guide economic decision-makers and businesses and generate significant benefits.

Transitioning to a nature-positive model in three socio-economic systems in China could create USD1.9 trillion in annual business value and 88 million new jobs by 2030.

Transforming three systems for a nature-positive economy

Food, land and ocean use

The report identifies six priority transitions that can set the system on a path to nature-positive development while generating almost $565 billion of additional annual revenue and creating 34 million new jobs in China by 2030. The sectors poised to generate the biggest business opportunities from this system’s transformation include organic food and beverages, diversified vegetables and ecotourism.

Actions required include:

  • Tackling illegal fishing and promoting sustainable aquaculture;
  • Improving the quality of forests and their management and;
  • Using digital technology to make supply chains more transparent and reduce waste.

Infrastructure and built environment

The report identifies five priority transitions that can set the system on a path to nature-positive development while creating around $590 billion of additional revenue per year and 30 million new jobs by 2030. The biggest business opportunities in transforming this system will come from energy-efficient buildings, sustainable infrastructure financing, remodelling parking land use, and green long-distance transportation.

Actions required include:

  • Prioritizing the use of green roofs and prefabricated buildings over traditional construction materials;
  • Multiplying urban biodiversity and expanding China’s network of ‘natural forest cities’ and;
  • Choosing Nature-based Solutions over grey infrastructure, notably by upgrading waste management facilities and continuing to build ‘sponge cities’.

Energy and extractives

The report identifies four priority transitions that can transform the system to be nature-positive, while creating almost $740 billion of additional revenue per year and 23 million new jobs in China by 2030. The biggest business opportunities in transforming this system will come from the expansion of renewables, circular models in the automotive industry, resource recovery and end-use steel efficiency.

Actions required include:

  • Redesigning products, services and production systems to be circular and resource-efficient;
  • Adopting new technologies and standards to increase the transparency of supply chains and remove illegal operations and;
  • Developing clean energy solutions that limit impact on biodiversity.

Four ways China can lead the nature-positive transition

1. Driving global consensus and cooperation – for example, by leading the world in delivering the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework as host of COP15; strengthening collaboration between developing and developed economies.

2. Pioneering policy and regulatory changes – for example, by embracing Nature-based Solutions to deliver climate goals and adopting new regulatory standards, incentives and measures of success that account for the true value of nature.

3. Harnessing the innovative power of Chinese businesses – for example, by deploying Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as 5G and blockchain, to accelerate the transition.

4. Mobilizing investment in nature – for example, by modelling how public and private capital can be channelled into nature and enabling an annual investment of $535 billion until 2030 to finance the 15 transitions across the three systems.

The report was prepared in collaboration with Golden Bee.

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