Putting nature first could create 395m new jobs

16 July 2020 by Grace Coleman
blog author

Industry solutions that add value to nature could create 395 million jobs by 2030, according to a new study from the World Economic Forum.

The ‘Future of Nature and Business’ report found that emphasis on being ‘nature positive’ can support biodiversity and stimulate economic growth, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The report provides plans for businesses to access a $10.1 trillion business opportunity and examines real examples where business outcomes have been improved by nature-positive results. For example, in Indonesia, smart farming utilizing sensors and satellite imagery improved crop yields on average by 60 per cent.

Akanksha Khatri, head of the Nature Action Agenda, World Economic Forum, said: “We can address the looming biodiversity crisis and reset the economy in a way that creates and protects millions of jobs. 

“Public calls are getting louder for businesses and government to do better. We can protect our food supplies, make better use of our infrastructure and tap into new energy sources by transitioning to nature-positive solutions.”

The report, written in collaboration with AlphaBeta, sections actions into the following three areas or socio-economic systems where change can be scaled: 

  • Food, land and ocean use

  • Infrastructure and the built-environment 

  • Energy and extractives

What we eat and grow makes up around $10 trillion of global GDP and employs up to 40 per cent of the global workforce. Nature-positive solutions could create 191 million new jobs and $3.6 trillion of additional revenue or cost savings by 2030. 

Examples include ensuring diets are diversified and managing a sustainable ecosystem.

Around 40 per cent of global GDP comes from the built environment – office buildings, homes and transport. Nature-positive solutions could create 117 million new jobs and $3 trillion in additional revenue or cost savings by 2030. Installing more efficient technology and installing green roofs could help achieve this.

Renewable energy sources are expected to bring opportunities of $650 billion and investment returns greater than 10 per cent by 2030. Stimulus packages for solar and other commercialized renewables can generate millions of new jobs. 

Land for renewable energy projects are three to 12 times the size of coal-powered ones and some firms are providing additional revenue streams on the same plot of land by developing high-rise photovoltaic power stations that can be combined with animal husbandry and ecotourism.

Jeremy Oppenheim, founder and senior partner at SYSTEMIQ, which helped write an accompanying Policy Companion report to guide finance ministers, said: “Nature is critical to creating jobs, as well as supporting public health and resilience. 

“As finance ministers look to stimulate their economies amid the fragility exposed by COVID-19, they must seize the moment to integrate nature into fiscal policy; both supporting businesses to invest in nature-positive opportunities and making sure that we protect nature through the recovery.”