A new report finds that annual spending on nature-based solutions needs to increase by 140 per cent, with special attention paid to investment in non-G20 countries

The UN is urging 20 of the world’s richest nations to step up their funding for nature-based solutions in a bid to close the climate spending gap.

In a new report published yesterday, titled the State of Finance for Nature in the G20, the UN calculated that G20 countries need to invest $285bn a year in nature-based solutions by 2050 to meet global climate, biodiversity, and land degradation goals. Meeting the target would require an additional $165bn in annual investments, up 140 per cent on the current G20 spend of $120bn.

The report suggests additional spending should be directed towards official development assistance (ODA), which targets the economic development and welfare of developing countries, where the nature based solutions spending gap is larger and harder to close.

G20 investments represented 92 per cent of all global investments in nature based solutions in 2020, the report reveals. The majority of those G20 investments – 87 per cent – were directed towards domestic government programmes, while just two per cent of the $120bn annual investment went to ODA.

“In many instances, G20 countries can improve economic efficiency in nature-based solutions spending by targeting investments in non-G20 countries,” said Nina Bisom, coordinator of Economics for the Land Degradation Initiative, a contributing organisation to the report. “For example, the average cost of converting land from other uses to nature-based solutions in G20 countries is USD 2.600/hectare, while the same costs only USD 2,100/hectare for non-G20 regions.”

The report also suggests that private sector spending should increase to deliver the additional nature based solutions funding required to meet targets, revealing that private sector investments made up just 11 per cent of the total G20 spend at around $14bn a year.

Future global investment in nature based solutions should reach $536bn a year, of which G20 countries should account for around 40 per cent, according to the UN. The report also finds that G20 countries have the capacity to meet this investment and stresses that the world’s richest nations should now move to align their development and economic recovery from the pandemic with international climate goals.

Ivo Mulder, Head of UNEP’s Climate Finance Unit, said: “To scale up private finance, governments can boost the investment case for nature, for instance by creating stable and predictable markets for ecosystem services like forest carbon or by using public money on below-market rates.”

“Systemic changes are needed at all levels, including consumers paying the true price of food, taking into account its environmental footprint. Companies and financial institutions should fully disclose climate- and nature-related financial risks, and governments need to repurpose agricultural fiscal policies and trade-related tariffs.”

Government and corporate interest in nature based solutions is growing, with investment in projects to protect forests and expand natural carbon sinks increasing globally. However, the trend remains highly controversial in some quarters, raising concerns over the wider impact of changing land use and sparking criticism from many environmentalists over the expansion of a carbon offset that they allege is badly regulated and can even lead to higher overall emissions.

In related news, Natural England yesterday announced an £11m boost to three nature recovery projects in the north of England and Scottish borders, while Foreign Minister Lord Goldsmith separately announced the UK government is to invest £2m of UK Aid into protecting marine environments in the eastern pacific.

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