Reflections on the One Planet Summit: Encouraging commitments but investment gap persists

This week lifted my spirit, in a show of commitment at the One Planet Summit from world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, Vice Premier of China Han Zheng, the Prince of Wales, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The Sustainable Markets Initiative launched the Terra Carta with commitments of $10b and supporters including AstraZeneca, Bank of America, BlackRock, EY, Fidelity International, HSBC and Unilever. The Prince of Wales said:

Today, I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to join us in this endeavour, and to give their support to this ‘Terra Carta’ – to bring prosperity into harmony with Nature, People and Planet over the coming decade. I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilize the innovation, scale and resources that are required to transform our global economy.

Commitments at the Summit of more than $14bn of new funding for 2021-2025 promise to breathe new life into the Great Green Wall – restoration of an 8,000 km stretch of degraded lands in the Sahel.

But as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pointed out, biodiversity is facing a financial gap of US$711 billion per year until 2030.


Investment gap

Figures, calculated for The Little Book of Investing in Nature, launched by IDH and partners including Global Canopy, AFD, Mirova, Biofin, Crédit Suisse, WWF and UNDP on Wednesday at the One Planet Summit show that we currently spend more than $1 trillion of public money on subsidies to economic sectors that harm biodiversity – five times the amount spent on protecting nature. The evidence presented suggests that there will be a substantial increase in future private sector finance for nature, which may help reduce the biodiversity financing gap to some $327 billion.


A way forward

The summit offered an uplifting moment for our planet in turmoil. But for these commitments to effect lasting sustainable change, we cannot stop at environmental measures alone. As President von der Leyen said at the Summit, this is about equality.

A sustainable future must be an equitable one. For lasting change, we must pair investment in sustainable production and market access for sustainable produce, with investment in nature protection and restoration – for example through the carbon market – so that farmers and communities can prosper.

What is needed for this? We need to work together to make living income and living wage the mainstream, to forge equal partnerships between producing countries and markets, and to listen and really understand the realities as a basis for shared solutions.

Read the Little Book of Investing in Nature