Investing in the planet is a gift we get back

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Nature's gift – a liveable planet

Ecosystems are the foundations of society

Natural ecosystems are the foundations of our society and contribute to human health and prosperity. Nature provides basic materials such as food (grown, raised or harvested), water, and renewable resources (wood and fibres) and medicines.  Nature helps regulate climate, provides flood protection, purifies water, and creates soil. [1] In addition, nature contributes to health through the social determinants of health – social factors that influence health. [2] For example:
  • Income and employment: Farmers, fishers, foresters, people working in tourism and recreation are among those whose employment and income depend directly on the environment
  • Childhood experiences: Nature inspires and can enrich childhood experiences
  • Healthy behaviours: Access to nature, parks and green and blue spaces encourages greater physical activity
  • Social supports and coping skills: Being near or in nature relieves stress and improves mental health
  • Culture: Nature provides aesthetic and spiritual nourishment, provides a space for relaxation and enjoyment

The great acceleration is devastating nature

Until recently, human pressures on the environment were relatively small. With the great acceleration, these pressures have increased to the point that there is real concern that humans will exceed the carrying capacity of planet earth – we may already have exceeded some of planetary boundaries. [3] [4]  

The Great Acceleration: Socio-economic trends 1750-present
(Source: The Natural Step)
Shows how world population, GDP and other economic factors have increased between 1750 to now

The Great Acceleration: Earth systems trends 1750-present
(Source: The Natural Step)
Shows how carbon dioxide, other pollutants and pressures on nature have increased over time from 1750 to now

Nature-based solutions – a win-win proposition

Focussing on nature can contribute to both livelihoods and improving health and well-being. For example:

  • Protecting and restoring forests stores carbon, reduces soil erosion, and improves water retention in the ground
  • Restored wetlands will absorb and filter water reducing risk of flooding and helps maintain water quality.
  • Restoring degraded agricultural lands can increase food production and reduce pressure on transforming forests into agricultural land,
  • Expanding and restoring greenspaces in and around urban areas will reduce heat stress and flood risks, and
  • Protecting coastal areas (mangroves, wetlands, reefs) buffers the shores, absorbs flood waters, reducing the damage otherwise caused by extreme weather [5]

It is possible to build better. Let’s do it.

Our future is connected to the health of our planet. Without nature we cannot exist. We need to approach things in a different way so that we protect the Earth we need and provide health and well-being for all.A new nature economy could generate up to $10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030. [6] The Campaign for Nature estimates that the benefit of setting aside 30% of the planet as protected areas outweighs the cost by 5 to 1. [7]

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