MANILA, PHILIPPINES (6 November 2020) – In the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, governments, development institutions, and the private sector must work together to achieve a nature-positive recovery, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President (Operations 2) Ahmed M. Saeed told the opening of a webinar today.

“One lesson we should all have learned, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, is that we can no longer manage economic growth and environmental pressures separately,” Mr. Saeed said at the webinar on Financing Nature and Diversity. “Governments and businesses need to work together to navigate these challenges to achieve a nature-positive recovery.”

Speakers heard how countries in the Asia and Pacific region are highly dependent on natural capital for sustaining their socioeconomic development, with an average of 30% of countries’ wealth highly reliant on natural resources, including forests, protected areas, agricultural lands, energy, and minerals. Employment and revenue generation from natural capital are also significant, supporting millions of jobs and livelihoods. In the region, about 380 million smallholder farms provide about 80% of food.

But Asia and the Pacific is experiencing severe natural capital decline, biodiversity loss, land use change, natural resource overexploitation, and pollution. To redress this imbalance and promote nature-positive approaches, ADB is establishing a Natural Capital Lab, which will operate in four main areas.

First, through knowledge sharing, it will leverage some of the tools that already exist to capture the value of ecosystem services. The lab will become a platform where existing approaches can be learned and used with open access. Second, the lab will be a hub to share policy instruments, institutional and regulatory frameworks to incentivize nature-positive investments and discourage activities leading to environment degradation. Third, the lab will catalyze sustainable finance, including through the private sector, to promote integration of environmental, sustainable and governance criteria into lending and investment decisions. Fourth, the natural capital lab will build partnerships to share knowledge across sectors and regions.

The webinar was the first of three to be held between now and February 2021 in preparation for the formal launch of the Natural Capital Lab, planned for the Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) in Kunming in May 2021. The event examined the role of multilateral development banks, governments, and development partners to mobilize private capital for natural capital investments.

Besides ADB, speakers were drawn from the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Stanford University, Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, the Global Environment Facility, and private sector representatives, among others.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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