COVID-19 is a stark reminder that our assault on the natural world has consequences

For those of us who have spent years trying to persuade the finance sector to assess and mitigate the impacts of its activities on the natural world, this is now a big question. COVID-19 demonstrates that it is time for all in the financial sector to think “beyond carbon”, and put nature-related impacts and dependencies firmly onto their risk map. Here’s why.

The World Wildlife Fund values the illegal wildlife trade at between $15-23 billion a year, making it the fourth-largest illegal trade behind drugs. Europol, meanwhile, estimates that direct environmental crime including logging, fishing and mining could be worth up to $213 billion annually. And the World Bank estimates the full costs of environmental crime, including the loss of ecosystem services upon which the economy depends, to be in the range of $1-2 trillion per year globally.

Coronavirus is an acute reminder of the consequences coming the financial sector’s way if humanity continues to mess with nature. It should be a wake-up call to banks, insurers, investors and businesses that assessing the environmental impacts of their activities should not be confined to carbon emissions.

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