Biodiversity is critically important to human health, economies and protecting us from pandemics. Humans have caused massive destruction of biodiversity and cumulative loss of around 83% of all wild animals and half of all plants., according to World Economic Forum’s Global Risks report 2020.
Biodiversity within species and between the species and of ecosystems is declining at unimaginable rate causing massive ripples in global economic system and affecting millions of livelihoods.’
Here are the Reasons how biodiversity supports our economies and wellbeing
1. It ensures Health and Food Security
A healthy biodiversity provides many natural services which underpins the global nutrition and food security. They provides us wide array of fruits, vegetables, wood, animal products which is essential for health and balanced diet. Since biodiversity itself is under threat causing threat to global health and nutrition which is important to attain Sustainable Development goals of zero hunger and good health and well being
Every country has indigenous plants and species production such as a wild greens and grains which have adapted to local conditions making them resilient to pests and extreme weather. In past it provided sufficient micronutrients to local indigenous populations.
But unfortunately ,due to diet simplification and extreme food processing had led to poor quality diets and as result, 33% of world suffers from micronutrient deficiencies, according to Biodiversity International Organisation.
Wheat, Corn and Rice cumulatively provide almost 60% of total plant based calories consumed by humans but due to the reduced resilience of our biodiversity thousands of rice and and wheat crop varieties has dropped to just a few dozen only ; For example in india and thailand alone 50% of lands used for growing rice only produces two varieties
Due to biodiversity and species loss we have lost thousands of food varieties and in near future we may lose those existing now.
Traditional farming people had understood the importance of conservation of species was crucial for healthy societies and ecosystems.
2. Biodiversity helps fight Diseases and mitigate epidemics
Scientifically its been proved that higher rate of biodiversity and species diversity have been linked to an increase in human health.
Firstly, plants are essential for medicines. According to World Economic Forum’s New Nature Economy Report 2020 around 25% of Drugs used in manufacturing modern medicines are derived from rainforest plants while 70% of cancer drugs are natural or synthetic are natural derived. Everytime we lose a species in biodiversity , we miss out potential new medicines and threatening human health to fight disease.
Secondly, a healthy biodiversity protected due to natural areas have been linked to lower epidemic breakouts, according to Nature magazine. As human activities encroach and destroy the biodiversity through agricultural expansion , urbanisation and Deforestation, we reduce the size of number of ecosystems , creating ideal ideal conditions for spread of virus and bacterial diseases.
3. Biodiversity is important for Business & livelihoods
According to a recent research report by WEF, more than 55% of world’s GDP is highly dependent on nature and biodiversity services.
Many big and small business houses are on brink of loss and bankruptcy due to nature loss, allied tourism and food business are threatened due to marine and forest loss like and natural wonders like coral reefs are depleting fast anda ffecting local food and tourism.
There are enormous benefits of Biodiversity restoration and maintenance for economic resilience and every dollar spend on nature restoration leads to $9 of return on investment, changing the food production method to newer modern sustainable methods could unlock $5 trillion dollar in new economic opportunities by 2030 while preventing loss of loss trillions of dollar in waste.
Scientists and researchers predict that if the current ratesNew Nature Economy Report 2020, WEF
of nature destruction continue unabated, some biomes
(e.g. tundra, grasslands, forests, deserts) may cross irreversible tipping points, with far-reaching economic and societal impacts. When exceeded, these tipping points can trigger catastrophic events – sometimes locally, sometimes (as with climate change) globally.For example, large-scale forest loss in the Amazon not only affects the destroyed area, but can also alter regional weather patterns,affecting regional water availability and agricultural productivity. Some 17% of forest cover in the Amazon has been lost since 1970.35 If the rate of forest loss continues, and 20–25% of the forest is lost, scientists warn that the region will reach a tipping point and parts will change to non-forest ecosystems. Models suggest that this would lead to increased duration of droughts in the region and annual agricultural production losses of $422 million in Brazil alone.Brazil is a significant global exporter of food, and a sharp decline in its agricultural output could increase the volatility of food prices around the world.
Biodiversity loss deeply affects the local livelihood opportunities, Globally 75% of jobs are dependent on water and agriculture, fisheries and forests employes 60% of world’s working poor. In India forest ecosystems alone generate around 57% of rural livelihoods.
Industries that are highly dependent on nature generate 15% of global GDP ($13 trillion), while moderately dependent industries generate 37% ($31 trillion). Together, the three largest sectors that are highly dependent on nature generate close to $8 trillion of gross value added.
These are construction ($4 trillion), agriculture ($2.5 trillion) and food and beverages ($1.4 trillion). This is roughly twice the size of the German economy. Such sectors rely on either the direct extraction of resources from forests and oceans or the provision of ecosystem services such as healthy soils, clean water, pollination and a stable climate. As nature loses its capacity to provide such services, these sectors could suffer significant losses.
Nature loss and climate change have a disproportionate impact on women and children, as women play a vital role in managing biological resources such as fuel, food and water.As increased gender equality is a driver of economic growth,the adverse impacts of nature loss on women have wider implications for economic development and can reduce market development opportunities for businesses.
The global economy is embedded in Earth’s broader ecosystems and is dependent upon them. As nature continues to deteriorate, businesses progressively run more risk. This risk is not only reputational and legal – as more consumers and governments become aware of and act on nature loss. It is also operational and financial – as direct inputs disappear and ecosystem services, on which businesses depend, stop functioning. As nature declines, the prospects for business success and future prosperity dwindle. Conversely, the business opportunities that await those committed to restoring natural ecosystems could be considerable.
Solutions to the issue of nature loss are complex, but unless we take transformative action urgently, the risks and impacts of such loss will only accelerate.