May 22 is International Day for Biological Diversity and to celebrate, we’re outlining 5 ways that biodiversity matters for jobs, health and the economy. 

On International Day for Biological Diversity, we should celebrate the potential of nature to solve many of the global problems we are facing. According to the World Economic Forum, over half of the world’s GDP is at risk due to nature loss. Biodiversity is declining faster now than at any other time in history, which has grave consequences for our livelihoods, health and prosperity. With COVID-19, we have seen the consequences of encroachment into natural ecosystems. 

According to a recent World Economic Forum report, transitioning towards nature-positive economic models in key sectors could provide almost 400 million jobs and over USD$10 trillion in annual business value by 2030. 

Akanksha Khatri, Head of the Nature Action Agenda at the World Economic Forum put together a list of 5 reasons why biodiversity matters to jobs, health and the economy.

Millions of species work together to provide us with a diverse range of foods that are essential for a healthy, balanced diet. Three crops- wheat, corn and rice- provide almost 60% of total plant-based calories consumed by humans. This simplification of diets has led to reduced resiliency in our supply chains and on our plates, with one-third of the world suffering from micronutrient deficiencies. 

25% of drugs used in modern medicine are derived from rainforest plants. Biodiversity loss is also linked to increases in disease as humans encroach further into nature through deforestation and urbanisation. It is estimated that 43% of emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife!

Through protecting biodiversity, the global economy could actually grow and become more resilient. Global sales of pharmaceuticals based on materials of natural origin are worth an estimated $75 billion a year, while coral reefs are essential to food and tourism. Protecting biodiversity in agriculture and food production alone could present $4.5 trillion per year in new business opportunities by 2030, while also preventing trillions of dollars worth of social and environmental harms. 

You might also like: Kenya Environment Tribunal Protects Open Rangeland

Forests serve as the livelihoods for over 1.6 billion people. Additionally, the “restoration economy”- the restoration of natural landscapes- provides more jobs in the US than most of the extractives sector, with the potential to create even more. Nature-positive businesses can provide cost-effective, robot-proof, business-friendly jobs that stimulate the rural economy without harming the environment. 

Biodiverse ecosystems provide nature-based solutions that protect us from natural disasters such as floods and storms, filter our water and regenerate our soils. Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems is also vital to fighting climate change. Nature-based solutions could provide 37% of the cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed by 2030 to maintain global warming within 2°C by 2100. 

On International Day for Biological Diversity, we should recognise the importance of nature and its potential to build a more prosperous future for all the world’s inhabitants.