The goods and services nature provides are worth an incredible US$125 trillion a year. This animation explains why governments and businesses should take this value into account when they make decisions. That way, we’ll improve the way we look after our natural world, and it will continue to sustain us all into the future.
The UK government released a 25 Year Environment Plan on 11 January 2018. It sets out how the UK will tackle the crisis facing our natural world.
The plan promises to end plastic waste, create new habitats for endangered species, deliver a ‘green Brexit’, create nature-friendly schools, and lead the way for other countries to tackle environmental destruction.
Now that the plan is out, we’ll be pushing for more urgent action on plastics, dirty air, climate change and protecting our precious natural heritage.
WHAT IS THE 25 YEAR ENVIRONMENT PLAN?
The 25 Year Plan is a long-term management strategy for the environment that applies to England, which recognises the enormous contribution that nature makes to our wellbeing and our economy. It’s designed to ensure that these contributions can continue for generations to come, with a focus on reversing the long-term decline we have seen in our natural environment that has caused growing social and economic costs.
The Plan will be underpinned by the concept of natural capital, meaning it will take account of the full range of “natural assets” that give benefits to humans, such as forests and urban green spaces that provide clean air, absorb carbon and provide recreation, as well as rivers that provide freshwater for drinking, wetlands that provide protection from floods, and oceans that provide seafood and generate energy.
WHY IS THE 25 YEAR ENVIRONMENT PLAN IMPORTANT?
Back in 2011 the government made a commitment to protect our natural environment for future generations. But since then we’ve seen first-hand the impacts of ongoing environmental decline, such as climate change and floods, increasing water shortages, and health costs from pollution – these are significantly affecting our economy, resilience and wellbeing as a society. With the population growing and our demands rising with it, our planet’s natural resources are diminishing faster than they can be replenished. We need to reverse this decline in our natural assets both here in the UK and abroad.
Following the EU Referendum result, and given that the UK now has the scope to think about what environmental legislation we will need outside of the EU, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve the way we manage our environment and natural resources. Through collaboration of government, business and individuals, we can lead the way in protecting our natural capital, and change the way we perceive nature, recognising it is a fundamental underpinning to our society and economy.
A CHANCE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE LEADERSHIP
The UK government made commitments back in 2011 in the Natural Environment White Paper, to leave our environment in a better state for future generations. In order to begin moving forward and start achieving these commitments, we believe all government departments need to be involved in creating and delivering this long term plan. This Government has a chance to show real global leadership in addressing environmental issues, not only in the UK, but also by working to reduce any negative impacts we have on natural capital abroad due to international trade, delivering on a commitment the Government made when it signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals.
WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO BUSINESSES?
All businesses depend on and affect nature – but as our natural capital stocks are being constantly depleted, access to natural assets is becoming less secure. According to the World Economic Forum, this represents some of the most serious risks to businesses and this is generating increased costs. But it also presents a number of opportunities.
Policy and regulations surrounding the use of natural capital is evolving quickly. In the UK, the plan-making process is well underway and could give rise to a range of institutional and policy reforms, including changes to regulations and incentives that may affect how businesses operate, innovate and invest.