Nature conservation must be at the heart of any recovery
From Lord Zac Goldsmith, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Andrew Steer, Tanya Steele, Rebecca Speight and John Sauven
Mangrove swamp in Petit Canal in Guadeloupe © (c) Philippehalle | Dreamstime.com
Your superb editorial (“The Covid-19 fight opens a climate opportunity”, May 16) overlooked one other essential means of addressing the climate crisis and “building back better” from the ravages of Covid-19: the protection and restoration of the natural world, on both land and sea.
So-called “nature-based solutions” to climate change — such as managing watersheds to reduce downstream flooding; restoring wetlands to support water provision; and protecting and restoring coastal forests and “blue carbon” ecosystems like mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes to reduce flooding and storm damage — are vital tools in our collective armoury.
The protection of the world’s remaining tropical forests is one of our best defences against the rise of future zoonotic diseases, while coral reefs are precious storehouses for the ocean genome. Scientists are clear that we need to protect our planet’s ocean and land by 2030 to curb runaway climate change, defend livelihoods and safeguard a heathy planet.
A global shift towards more sustainable forms of agriculture and land use could add an additional $2.3tn in productive growth to the global economy. Such a shift would also provide a strong opportunity for job creation: the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that a further 200m jobs could be created by 2050 by shifting to more sustainable practices. The protection and more sustainable management of the ocean would yield similar benefits.
In the US, the response to the Great Depression saw 3m people employed in conservation and development; the planting of more than 3bn trees; and the building of flood barriers, trails and shelters in more than 800 national parks. The environmental legacy of Roosevelt’s response persists to this day.
Today, the world urgently needs a new such commitment to nature as we recover from Covid-19. Nature should be at the heart of the recovery we seek.
Lord Zac Goldsmith,
UK Minister for Pacific and the Environment
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez,
Minister of Energy and Environment, Costa Rica
President and CEO, World Resources Institute
CEO, WWF-UK Rebecca Speight, CEO, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
CEO, Greenpeace UK
20 May 2020