The UK is leading the way to protect and restore nature and biodiversity
This government understands what is at stake at the COP15 summit in Montreal this week, as policymakers gather to attempt to agree the Global Biodiversity Framework.
The landmark Dasgupta Review came to a clear conclusion: nature and biodiversity are at the heart of our economies, livelihoods, and well-being. To grow our economy sustainably, we must understand and manage the impact we are having.
That is what we are working to do in the United Kingdom. Our 25-year Environment Plan sets out our pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better condition than we inherited it. This is backed up by the Environment Act which provides a framework to clean up the UK’s air, restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity and reduce waste.
The Treasury is making progress in putting nature at the heart of our decisions on the economy
To align our resources behind that, the Autumn Statement and last year’s spending review confirmed more than £250m of public investment over three years to protect and restore nature, and the Treasury is working to integrate nature and climate considerations into all our decision-making.
But public money and action alone will never be enough to meet our ambitions. That’s why it has been encouraging to see so many businesses in Montreal. Unlocking investment in our natural environment will be essential to meeting our domestic environmental targets, including on tree planting and peatland restoration.
By helping develop markets for the benefits we get from nature, we can make sure finance flows to where it is needed the most. We have leveraged private finance through our £20bn green financing programme open to institutional investors and the public who want their own savings to contribute to a nature-positive world. Its efforts such as this which have seen London lauded as the foremost financial centre for green finance.
Our ambition stretches beyond the City. We want firms across the nation to be the benchmark. That’s why we’re introducing new Sustainability Disclosure Requirements and requirements on transition planning. As the world moves towards a low-carbon economy, we must look for solutions which can protect nature and drive us towards net zero.
Yet it is global action that will really shift the dial. In 2021, the UK as G7 presidency led the 30x30 commitment to conserve or protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030. Under our COP26 presidency, we got 145 countries to agree to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by that same year.
Additionally, we have committed to spending £3bn on climate change solutions that protect and restore nature and biodiversity in developing countries and making all new bilateral overseas aid spending nature-positive in alignment with the Global Biodiversity Framework once agreed.
I was also pleased to announce at COP15 that the UK government has committed £7.2m to a new Nature Positive Economy programme to support the transition of developing countries to nature-positive economies. This will help to restore nature, drive sustainable economic development, and protect poorer communities around the world.
This is part of our efforts to support a step change in the global financial system towards a nature-positive future.
The Treasury is making progress in putting nature at the heart of our decisions on the economy, and in Montreal I encouraged my counterparts to do the same in recognition of our central role and responsibility in that realignment.
COP15 is the lynchpin bringing governments and businesses together to secure change, and I’m proud that the UK is taking the lead on nature and biodiversity, mobilising private finance and encouraging other countries to take a nature-first approach. That makes me optimistic for a global green future.
Baroness Penn, crossbench peer and treasury minister.
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