Later in 2020, governments will gather in Kunming, China, to revisit global targets on protecting ecosystems and halting species loss. This is a critical moment: as climate change exacerbates ecosystem collapse, we could be causing irreversible ecosystem damage with serious economic and social consequences.  Some of the most serious impacts will not occur gradually, but rather suddenly and violently, as critical thresholds are breached…

…The rapid degradation of our life support system means a lot more is needed. As we find ourselves at the doorstep of the “sixth mass extinction”, both businesses and regulators have a huge role to play in shifting paradigms about who pays for the externalities created by business-as usual.”

This is not taken from a report by an environmental NGO, but from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2020 which presents the major risks the world will be facing in the coming year.  It is published before this week’s meeting of World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting in Davos and just after the UN has released its draft plan to tackle the extinction crisis.

For the first time ever, biodiversity loss is now considered one of the five global risks (alongside climate change of course) for both likelihood and impact.  The top risks (shown in the top right quadrant) are now dominated by environmental challenges. 

The report should be the single most important reference document for world leaders and treasuries around the world and a great test of political leadership.  Helpfully, the World Economic Forum will also be publishing a blueprint for how we should respond to the crisis.  This will be called the New Nature Economy Report and will be released in three parts during 2020.  It will set out “risks, key transformation pathways and financing for a nature positive economy.”  The World Economic Forum concludes “we have the science and evidence required to pivot in this direction, but there is an acute need for champions who can shift systems and prioritize investment for safeguarding nature.

We look to our Prime Minister and Chancellor to be the champions that nature needs.