There is an abundance of evidence that integrating biodiversity conservation into economic development will help curb climate change. Yet, in most countries, spending on harmful activities may outweigh spending on beneficial activities. Indeed, 17 major economies have already announced economic stimulus packages, allocating USD 3.5 trillion to sectors with large environmental impacts. Among these sectors are agriculture, energy, waste, and transport. The lack of adequate funding in these sectors may exacerbate the current environmental crisis.
Biodiversity is essential to climate change mitigation efforts. Conserved ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide and store it, helping prevent dangerous weather and flooding. They also provide important ecosystem services to people. By restoring and preserving these ecosystems, we can help our communities cope with climate change and the impacts that it has on them. Biodiversity also benefits our economy. At least 40 percent of the global economy is derived from biodiversity. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of the needs of the poor come from biological resources.
The world is facing enormous challenges to meet its nutritional needs, including increasing population, poverty, globalization, and climate change. Supplying nutritious foods to all citizens is vital to global development. Developing and implementing policies that ensure equitable access to healthy foods is essential to meeting food security needs. Conservation of biodiversity and its use of it for sustainable agriculture is important, and they are both linked to provide multiple benefits. To find solutions to these challenges, we must understand these two interdependent systems and find ways to reconcile them.
The land sector can contribute up to 30% of the climate mitigation required by the year 2050. Natural systems, such as forests, can serve as important reservoirs for carbon and store huge amounts of water. They also protect coastal communities from erosion and landslides and provide valuable timber and food resources. Further, these ecosystems also reduce the vulnerability to climate change. In fact, by conserving and restoring them, communities can become more resilient to this threat.
Biological diversity plays an important role in promoting human health. Many plants, animals, and fungi act as medicinal remedies. Native communities have long recognized the benefits of biodiversity in treating ailments, and modern medicines are derived directly from nature. Some examples of medicines derived from nature include aspirin (from willow trees), trabectedin (from sea squirts), and more. Increasing loss of biodiversity threatens the availability of these essential treatments.
In the quest for sustainable development, scientists and governments are increasingly acknowledging the critical role of biodiversity conservation. This loss of biodiversity is a clear signal of the failure of current policy measures to protect species. Biodiversity is a fundamental economic problem, and economic theory can help to combat this. By emphasizing habitat and land management, economic analysis can help develop better policy portfolios for biodiversity conservation. This paper outlines some key areas where economics can play a significant role in advancing biodiversity conservation.