OECD-WWF Dialogue: Nature-Based Solutions as a Force for a Green and Resilient Recovery

 

Transcript of  Video Message by Angel Gurría 

OECD Secretary-General

5 June 2020  - Paris, OECD

(As prepared for delivery)

 

 


Ladies and Gentlemen,
  

Welcome to the second World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-OECD High-level Dialogue focusing on the importance of nature-based solutions (NBS), and how they can contribute to a green and resilient recovery.


We are in the midst of an unprecedented global health emergency, with far-reaching economic and social consequences. The immense human tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our lack of preparedness for systemic challenges. The world remains at the grip of worsening climate change and severe biodiversity losses. Without significant changes to our economic systems, the social and economic impacts of these crises will unquestionably eclipse those of COVID-19.


As governments work towards an economic recovery, the priority must be to reduce the likelihood of future shocks and increase society’s resilience, while focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable. We must learn from this unforeseen crisis to better ourselves, and improve our responses. Crucially, we must build economic systems that value nature as the central source of human well-being and environmental health in the post-COVID-19 world.

 

Safeguarding biodiversity can help reduce future health risks, and make our societies more resilient. The 2019 OECD report on ‘Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action’, stresses that biodiversity is the foundation of our health, our well-being and the economy. For example: globally, the total economic value of ecosystem services is estimated to be between 125 and 140 trillion USD per year. In addition, marine and terrestrial ecosystems sequester, in gross terms, the equivalent of 60 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions.


The international community has increasingly recognised the value of nature in strengthening our society’s and economy’s resilience. So-called “nature-based solutions” (NBS) aim to maximise synergies between ecosystem conservation and human well-being.


Taking the example of mangroves: it is estimated that without them, 15 million more people across the world would suffer from coastal flooding annually. Mangroves play a particularly valuable role in lower income countries, in which a large number of vulnerable communities lives concentrated along coastlines prone to flooding. In addition to flood protection, mangroves provide important habitat and shelter for a wide range of species, serve as a carbon sink, and increase harvestable marine resources upon which communities, and especially women, depend.


Despite their well-recognised role and potential, the application of nature-based solutions continues to be limited in numbers and in scale. Three actions are critical to turning this trend around:


First, we need to recognise that investing in nature supports health, quality of life and creates jobs. In our contributions to the French G7 Presidency in 2019, we have shown that each dollar invested in ecosystem restoration can produce multiple dollars in benefits.


Second, we need to promote NBS as part of national and international policy frameworks. This includes placing them front and centre in countries’ climate and biodiversity strategies, and in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.


And third, we need to design an enabling environment – both financially and regulatory – that promotes the use of NBS among public and private decision makers.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Let me conclude with the words of the American writer and environmental activist Wendell Berry, who once said: “The earth is what we all have in common.” So very true. Our planet is our life, our planet is our health, our planet is our future.


The solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis and our plans to relaunch our economies must take this crucial fact into consideration. Our solutions to the health and economic crises must carry the elements of our solutions to the environmental crisis. Nature based solutions is one of those elements. Let’s make the most of NBS as a force for greener and more resilient economies.


Remember, we need nature more than it needs us. I wish you a rich and fruitful discussion. Thank you.

 

 

See also:

OECD work on Environment

 

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