Biodiversity, Nature & Food Systems at the Core of Climate Discussions
Apeel, Cervest and Astanor Ventures at the inaugural World Biodiversity Summit
The health of our planet, and all the planet systems on which we depend, is inextricably linked to the balance of biodiversity in the natural world. Healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. Nonetheless, biodiversity and nature have not historically held their duly deserved weight in international climate discussions. This shift began to take hold at the COP 26 in Glasgow where nature was included in 92% of national declarations. It was also notably marked by the first annual World Biodiversity Summit hosted by the World Climate Foundation.
Agriculture depends on biodiversity, perhaps more intimately than any other major industry on Earth. For Astanor, a global agrifood tech impact investor, and our portfolio companies Apeel and Cervest, the inaugural World Biodiversity Summit presented a way to bridge the discussions between biodiversity and climate and highlight the integral role of finance, food and innovation in these discussions.
“Agriculture is the first victim and the biggest victim of climate change, unless we reintroduce biodiversity into the way we farm, we won’t be able to farm anymore.” – Emmanuel Faber, Partner at Astanor Ventures at the World Biodiversity Summit 2021
1. Key Takeaways from the World Biodiversity Summit
Biodiversity and nature are moving up on the climate agenda.
From finance, to food, to international organizations and NGOs, biodiversity and nature are becoming a focal point of discussion. Why? Because there is a global awakening to the key role played by biodiversity and nature across the economy.
We were thrilled to see the diversity of companies incorporating sustainable and regenerative agriculture approaches into their operations—beyond just corporate commitments, making the inclusion of these initiatives a core part of their business model. – Apeel
Without coordinated action for biodiversity and nature, global climate goals will remain out of reach.
Biodiversity and climate are inextricably linked. Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and nature-based solutions will be essential to achieve climate goals. These solutions, inspired and supported by nature, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build long-term resilience.
There was a strong focus on nature-based solutions across the discussions. At Apeel, we are focused on learning from nature to develop solutions that work with nature, rather than against it to solve the pressing issue of food waste. - Apeel
Nature-based solutions could provide about 35% of emissions reductions needed by 2030, at an estimated $8 trillion, providing a potentially cost-effective and long-lasting solution. They also offer opportunities to integrate mitigation and adaptation measures, which reduces climate risks and supports climate resilient communities. - Cervest
Diversity and inclusivity are key to addressing biodiversity.
Diversity and inclusivity are essential to building a climate agenda that will serve communities equally and build a truly resilient future. The impacts of climate change are not felt equally across the globe. The communities most disproportionately affected by climate change are also the ones that have been historically left out of the discussion and a shift in this paradigm is crucial to meeting global goals.
Local and indigenous communities manage 80% of the world's biodiversity but receive about 1% of global climate finance. This makes even less sense given that solutions involving local and indigenous communities as decision-makers are more effective and longer-lasting. Solutions that exclude the people most likely to experience disproportionate impacts aren’t climate resilient. This is why democratizing access to Climate Intelligence is at the core of Cervest’s mission. – Cervest
2. Looking forward 2022: Biodiversity at Center Stage
Recognize that nature-based solutions themselves are vulnerable to climate change.
Climate change poses a significant risk to the perennity of nature-based solutions. Models of carbon offsets and emissions reductions fail to consider the vulnerability of these solutions to the effects of climate change.
We’ve already seen large scale physical risk impact carbon offset projects. How do we know that trees planted to offset carbon will still be there in 2030? Let’s get visible and risk-adjusted adaptation plans in place to ensure transparency and accountability on calculating carbon offsets. - Cervest
Build a uniform set of metrics for biodiversity.
Harmonizing metrics is a major challenge for biodiversity. Biodiversity is a complex interdependent system and the variety of life on Earth cannot be easily assessed. The lack of a clear set of metrics to measure and monitor biodiversity and nature contribute contributes greatly to why these subjects have long ridden at the sidelines of international climate discussions.
A major global priority for 2022 needs to be the implementation of a sound, uniform and clear set of metrics and a straightforward reporting methodology. Without these metrics, we cannot hope to reverse biodiversity loss at a global scale. These metrics must also draw the connection between biodiversity, nature and finance, such as will be included in the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures and the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. – Astanor
Price natural assets and their services in a way that recognizes their true value.
Our systemic failure to price nature into our economic and social growth might be the single largest cause of climate change and environmental degradation. To support the long-term development of a sustainable economy, there is a growing need for a global, unified accounting framework that integrates the “true cost” into the system. True Cost Accounting in the agrifood industry is emerging to address this challenge.
The mistake we have made is treating nature as a tool for carbon removal and carbon offsetting. This oversimplifies the benefits and services natural ecosystems provide us. Only by rethinking how we attribute value to natural assets will we truly see nature as an asset to safeguard —rather than limitless, exploitable resource. – Cervest
Looking at COP27: Biodiversity and food systems are the core of climate discussions
In just under one year we will come together for the 27th Conference of the Parties, and we have our sights set on it / some things that need to get done at the COP.
1. Make COP27 a “Food COP”
The global food system is a leading cause of climate change and unsustainable practices are driving biodiversity loss and global health issues. Yet transforming the agrifood system is one of our greatest levers for mitigating climate change, supporting biodiversity and reinstating a balance between humanity and Earth’s natural systems. Making COP27 a “Food Cop” will give food systems the weight they deserve in the forefront of climate discussions.
2. We need to start having conversations about what happens if we miss 1.5℃
Current climate commitments still put us on a global trajectory to well overshoot 1.5℃ of warming. As the climate changes, entire ecosystems will be pushed to adapt at speeds that far exceed historical evolution. While the conversation should focus on how to limit warming to 1.5℃ target, adaptation plans need to be evaluated for scenarios which will endanger the delicate stability of our natural ecosystems.