Juniper: COP15 an ‘inflection point’ for biodiversity
The environmentalist told the Net Zero Investor annual conference that a ‘mobilisation of finance’ would be required.
Achieving the goals and targets due to be set at the COP15 biodiversity summit will require a programme of systemic change across society including the mobilisation of finance, according to the chair of Natural England.
Tony Juniper, speaking from the summit in Montreal, told delegates at the Net Zero Investor annual conference that governments could not deliver the change required on their own.
“Governments can set the targets, set the frame, and give the direction of travel, but it's going to be up to the financial sector, the corporates and the public backing that with changed behaviour that can start to reflect this incredible value of nature,” he said.
COP15 is currently negotiating a global biodiversity framework, including a target to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030. As part of the discussions, a group of 150 global financial institutions have endorsed a statement calling for governments to tackle climate change and halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
Juniper said that COP15 represented an “inflection point”, equivalent to the Paris meeting of 2015. But he expected faster progress on biodiversity than had been made on climate change over the past seven years.
Demand on asset managers
He told delegates at the conference, taking place at the Stock Exchange in London, that a “mobilisation of finance” would be a prerequisite to making progress on biodiversity loss. “In five years’ time, this is going to be a pretty high-profile demand on asset managers to show they are delivering nature-positive outcomes.”
The environmentalist suggested that an over-emphasis on economic growth is wreaking havoc on the natural world. He pointed to a study showing that nature contributes $175trn a year to the global economy at 2011 prices. In the same year, global GDP was $75trn, suggesting the hidden importance of biodiversity.
“We liquidate nature, we plunder soils, we clear forests, we pollute coral reefs, and we do that in the name of growth, when in fact what we're growing is considerably smaller than what we're destroying,” he said.
“And whilst we're counting the upside of GDP being increased, nobody has got on their balance sheet the destruction of the natural world. This is an oversight of monumental proportions, which needs to be fixed as a matter of grave urgency.”
Juniper said that the discussions at COP 15 would be a significant contribution to achieving success.
Tony Juniper has been interviewed as part of Net Zero Investor’s “Better World” series, sponsored by CCLA.