Nature underpins everything – from the places we live and the food we eat, to the economies that serve us. Unfortunately, status quo economics have failed to properly value nature. We work to change this reality.
Investing in Nature
Achieving a nature positive economy is a UK Government ambition, and thus primarily the responsibility of government. Tools like law, regulation and tax can help achieve this goal, but direct investment remains critical. A 2021 estimate of the finance gap for total UK environmental funding is around £5.6bn a year for the next decade, whilst RSPB estimates for biodiversity goals alone put the current shortfall at £1.2bn a year. In addition, at least a further £500m spend is needed to create the right governance and enforcement frameworks for a nature positive economy.
But safeguarding and restoring nature is going to require more than just government spending. Creating environmental markets to drive private investment is crucial – this is a challenging task, but the success of renewable energy shows what is achievable if done well. The RSPB is working to ensure new environmental markets truly deliver for nature by engaging in carbon, biodiversity net gain and other markets, to drive up standards and disseminate good practice.
Greening public investment
Government already spends a significant amount of money across public services, contracts, and new infrastructure projects. The challenge now is to ensure that this investment really works for nature. To make this change happen, we will be working to ensure that both central and devolved governments’ guidance for how money is spent really benefits nature and that public investment is checked for its impact on nature.
We will also be pushing for government to bring forward clear rules for investment in the wider economy and private sector – the need to disclose impacts on nature and establish 'green taxonomies’ to properly measure impact. To be successful, we will build alliances with progressive investors and civil society organisations prepared to act and call on government, as well as mainstream corporate and financial players, to make the changes required to ensure nature is properly valued at the heart of our economy.
Nature positive economic sectors
Key sectors of the economy have a crucial part to play in ensuring that nature thrives, not just for nature’s sake, but for the long-term viability of business activities and the wellbeing of society.
To be nature positive, a business must be able to demonstrate how their impacts on nature are being fully accounted for in their decision-making, and that they are making the necessary changes to their working practices to ensure that nature is being protected and restored across all activities. When it comes to specifics, ‘nature positive’ will mean different things for different sectors, and so the nature positive movement must be flexible and adaptive, driven by evidence, built collaboratively with all stakeholders, and imbued with a sense of urgency.
At the RSPB, we have decades of experience working with key sectors across land use and built infrastructure to support the move to a nature positive economy.
Local places will be critical to successfully recovering nature across the UK. This is not only because wildlife and biodiversity rely on particular habitats and geographies to thrive, but because local people, communities, businesses, and governments will be key to delivering the changes we need to see for nature. By working at the local and national levels, we advocate for more spending on nature and genuine benefits for local economies. We also work to ensure other forms of local spending – by businesses, government or consumers – can help nature thrive. Nature and place are more connected than ever. Local decisions on economic activities and land and water management are also crucial to achieving national goals and priorities. The RSPB draws on its knowledge and experience of working in place with communities to highlight how nature can help people live rich and rewarding lives. We work across the UK, recognising local concerns and identities while finding common lessons we can learn from.