27 Jan 2022

Venue: Online | Webex

Organization: Geneva Environment Network, UNEP Land Use Finance Unit

This event featured the findings of the new report State of Finance for Nature in the G20, which tracks global trends in public and private investment in Nature-based Solutions.

About this Session

Total investment in nature of USD 8.1 trillion is required between now and 2050 – while annual investment should reach USD 536 billion annually by 2050 – to successfully tackle the interlinked climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises, according to the State of Finance for Nature report released in May 2021. G20 countries make up approximately 53 per cent of this total annual investment and have the capacity to meet this investment need as they carry out most of the global economic and financial activity with fiscal leeway.

A new analysis, ‘State of Finance for Nature in the G20’ by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative hosted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), in collaboration with Vivid Economics, attempts to capture the complete amount and future needs for G20 spending on land-related Nature-based Solutions assets and activities.

The State of Finance for Nature in the G20 builds on the global report ‘State of Finance for Nature – Tripling Investments in Nature-based Solutions by 2030’ released in 2021, which calls for closing a USD 4.1 trillion financing gap in Nature-based Solutions. The report represents the need of a worldwide effort to catalyse private and public capital for Nature-based Solutions to meet targets set by the Rio Conventions and the Sustainable Development Goals to address the biodiversity, land degradation, and climate crises.

This presented the findings of the State of Finance for Nature in the G20 and discussed about the importance of closing that 4.1 trillion gap and the recommendations in the report to make it possible.


Justin ADAMS

Co-Head, Platform for Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions, World Economic Forum and Executive Director of the Tropical Forest Alliance


Deputy Director, Convention on Biological Diversity

Claudia HIEPE

Deputy Head of Division/Senior Officer on Environmental Policy, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany


Climate Finance Unit Head, United Nations Environment Programme


Senior Economist, VividEconomics


Setting the Scene | Justin ADAMS, WEF

  • Thank you for being with us, as we present a new report that we were delighted to launch today together with UNEP and the E.L.D. (Economics of Land Degradation unit) and the GIZ from Germany. This is built on the report that we did last year talking about the State of Finance for Nature where we identified this very significant funding gap that exists.
  • As we look out for 2050, a very significant amount of investment of 4 trillion dollars is going to be needed if we are going to really address our biodiversity, land degradation and climate goals. What we have seen in the last one to two years is just the increasing recognition of how central nature is to our economy: it provides clean water, clean air, and it is the very basis on which all our food production is dependent. If we continue to degrade it, we will continue to erode the future of our children and future generations. It is critical that we really understand this financing gap and how we can close it.
  • A huge thanks to the team of Vivid Economics who led the analysis of last year’s report. Today’s report is very much based on the G20 and the opportunity that it must really lead on this agenda. You will hear some of the data presented shortly, but we just think it is so important that the G20 prioritizes this and demonstrate the leadership that is required as we look to closing the gap, that’s really what this is about.
  • We are going to be exploring the questions of how we do bridge the gap, particularly ahead of the COP15 meeting. We are going to be looking at how we can increase development, finance and some of the policy instruments and the opportunities to increase private sector finance as we move forward.
  • We will have opening remarks. First from David Cooper, Deputy Director for the CBD, clearly the crucial Secretariat for driving the biodiversity agenda. Then we will hear from Claudia Heaper from the German government, particularly in this crucial year when Germany holds the G7 presidency. Claudia is the Deputy Head of Division in the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development – BMZ.
  • Then we will hear from Ivo Mulder who has been leading so much of this work from the Climate Finance Unit Head – UNEP, and finally from Mateo Salazar if needed for some of the technical questions on the report.

Opening Remarks | David COOPER, CBD

  • On behalf of Elizabeth Mrema, the Executive Secretary of the CBD Secretariat, and from all my colleagues, I would like to thank UNEP, the World Economic for the Eliminating Land Degradation initiative of GIZ, and Vivid Economics, for addressing this important issue. Indeed, 2022 is set to be a key for nature with the second, part of COP15 taking place later this year. We are very pleased that we have just been able to confirm that the preparatory meetings for that will be taking place in Geneva in March to prepare the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which is then due to be adopted at COP15 later this year. This is due to setting the agenda for global action on biodiversity for 2030 and 2050.
  • We also have this year the COP of the Desertification Convention, and the Climate Convention. And one key issue, of course, is looking at these three issues together. They are really all different facets of one major challenge that we have we know from recent assessments, like the IPBES 5th Edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, and of course, some recent reports, that we are losing biodiversity at rates that threaten to jeopardize the continued provision of ecosystem services on nature’s contributions to people in this world. If this is not addressed, it will undermine economic and social progress; it will also jeopardize the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • We also know from those same reports that if we act, we can hold and reverse biodiversity loss, we can bend the curve, we can put nature on a path to recovery. And this imperative and this ambition was agreed by governments in the 1st part of COP15 last year in the Kunming Declaration, where ministers committed themselves and committed countries to take the actions necessary to develop and implement the Post-2020 Framework that can put nature on the path to recovery. This will require major transformative changes across societies and economies, mainstreaming the values of biodiversity across everything we do as individuals, as businesses and as governments. It will require an integration of biodiversity values across economies, and an important part of that will be finance. We have this finance gap, but for trillionaires, according to the State of Finance Report. We have more investment currently that is harming nature than supporting it and we need to turn this around.
  • The draft Post-2020 Framework already sets out an ambitious framework to do that. It is still under negotiation but includes ambitious goals for nature itself, biodiversity, ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity for 2030 and 2050. It also provides a holistic approach where nature also contributes to other global challenges: the climate challenge mitigation and adaptation, health, food production and alike.
  • Nature-based Solutions will be a key part of any future strategy going forward. And it is good to see the focus of this additional report on Nature-based Solutions. But focusing on finance, the tools and the levers that can be used to fill that financial gap, we have an overall goal in the draft Post-2020 Framework to close that financing gap.
  • We have several targets which identify and address some of those potential levers to do that, I want us to highlight these:
    • The 1st one is about integrating these different values of biodiversity into everything we do, and in this context, aligning financial flows with the goals of this new agenda of protecting biodiversity.
    • The 2nd, in the draft target 14, is looking specifically at businesses and looking at the dependencies the businesses have on biodiversity, their impacts, and looking at measures to understand what those impacts and dependencies are and then to progressively reduce those impacts in Target 15.
    • Another target focuses on subsidies. Currently, we are investing in the destruction of nature to a greater extent than the protection of nature. We have over 500 billion a year in government subsidies, and probably five times that in harmful investments overall in biodiversity. That needs to be turned around, those subsidies need to be reformed so that we can then use part of those funds to address this final lever, which is mobilizing financial resources themselves from the public and private sector, including international finance.
  • We very much welcome these reports and believe that there are a lot of things that can be done in terms of voluntary initiatives by businesses and by governments, even before we have the adoption of the Post-2020 Framework.
  • The G20 and the G7 play a particular role and have a particular responsibility in leading the changes that need to happen in mobilizing resources, in addressing the subsidy issue. The upcoming WTO delayed negotiations on fisheries is an opportunity. Also, putting in place the public policies and the correct safeguard to ensure that Nature-based Solutions are used to support these overall objectives of biodiversity conservation and supporting the benefits to people. They must be used alongside other measures, notably, reducing emissions from greenhouse gas emissions, rather than replacing them. We must make sure that, in the mobilization of finance for Nature-based Solutions, we also build from the bottom up with the full engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Opening Remarks | Claudia HIEPE, Germany

  • It is a pleasure for me to be here and to share some insights on financing Nature-based Solutions from the country’s perspective. We had a new government since the end of last year, but also the previous one has been a proponent for Nature-based Solutions. The Green Party is now part of our government coalition and there are some very interesting developments: there is a focus on natural climate protection, meaning Nature-based Solutions will be a priority; our Environment Ministry is now also currently preparing a national action program on natural climate protection; we also see the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, both headed by the Green Party, speaking closer, and they just announced a new strategic alliance with the objective of an ecological inclusive and economically viable transformation of agriculture. This relates to phasing out harmful subsidies in agriculture and repurposing targeted support for environmental protection.
  • With the G7 presidency, the climate and biodiversity agenda and Nature-based Solutions are key priorities for Germany. We will link up on previous initiatives from G7, G20 and COP26, with the objective to further increase ambition, sustainable finance, and concrete implementation. We need to push more for this on the international agenda, like the CBD COP15. The year 2022 is good to push for these topics on the international agenda.
  • On the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, we have several actions, partially under the Heading of Biodiversity Finance to increase it already from 400 million per year to 600 million. We want to further increase it this year to 800 million. We also have followed the international funds like the GEF-8 Replenishments. The negotiations are ongoing right now and, as part of the German position, we are pushing for a greater focus on Nature-based Solutions. The Global Biodiversity Framework will also be key. Moreover, we want to help Nature-based Solutions financing and implementation on the ground, as we know that a lot of partner countries have now also Nature-based Solutions in their National Adaptation Plan and their National Determined Contribution (NDC).
  • There is some work to be done and it is very important from our development perspective, to also benefit people. It is not just about bringing together the biodiversity, climate and land degradation agenda, but also bringing it together with the Agenda-2030 and the real benefits to people. In those regards, we have a whole range of multi-lateral initiatives like the Blue Action Fund or Save our Mangroves Now, or the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, etcetera, all multi-stakeholder initiatives. We need more of these, we need all actors, the private sector; the civil society, and also, to get the financing.

Presentation of the findings from the State of Finance for Nature in the G20 Report | Ivo MULDER | UNEP

  • Nature-based Solutions is a relatively new concept. It means to put nature the heart of societal solutions related to the climate crisis, the food crisis, or biodiversity loss. It is not just only the typical preservation of national parks or important biodiversity areas, but also green roofs in cities or green spaces that provide cooling during heat waves; increasing the space that rivers have; or the natural protection from floods by investing in mangroves. It is really seeing and investing in nature as a solution to protecting coastlines and to make cities and keep them livable as a form of adaptation to increased climate extremes.
  • In terms of numbers, this report found that in G20 countries, about 120 billion USD are being spent on Nature-based Solutions. This presents most public and private investments, which, in last year’s reports we estimated at around 130 to 133 billion USD. This means that the amount of money that is being spent by both public, and private sectors is mostly spent in G20 countries themselves.
  • Future annual investments needs have been calculated at 536 billion USD per year by 2050. So, the investment gap that you can see is big in both cases. In the case of G20 countries, needs increased by 165%, but in non-OECD countries, it will have to increase by a few orders of magnitude more.
  • The fiscal leeway that many developing countries have is much less. This also speaks, in my view, to how Official Development Assistance (ODA) can best be harnessed, but also how can private investment not just be capitalized in developed countries, but also in developing countries, both G20 cand non G20.
  • What I found staggering is that in most countries, the private sector represents around 60% of the countries’ GDP. But we have only found 14 billion USD per year in private investment going towards.
  • Nature-based Solutions activities and assets put at the front and centre the necessity of improving and strengthening the investment, being in the form of creating stable and long-term income or making sure that, for example, the environmental externalities are embedded in the goods that we are consuming daily and buying in supermarkets. Both incentives will have to be provided in order to incentivize fund managers, banks and corporates to invest with positive social-environmental impacts, including on nature, climate and land degradation, while at the same time, asking companies to disclose niche related and climate-related risk and making sure that we pay a true value.
  • In terms of ODA, that is 2%, as the report calculates, but given the funding gap, particularly in non-G20 countries,  it is extremely crucial to make sure that both the total amount of ODA were to rise, but also to see how ODA can best be harnessed to make sure that they tackle the land degradation, biodiversity and the climate crisis at the same time, and through that, also incentivize the private sector to invest not just in G20 countries, but also in non-G20 countries. The 60% of total annual Nature-based Solutions needs lies in G20 countries, where the fiscal space is limited.
  • Interestingly, the report did a Debt-GDP ratio analysis. In other words, what is the amount of debt that a country has accrued relative to the size of the economy: the more debt a country has accrued relative to the size of the economy, the more risk and investment it attaches to it. Therefore, the more expensive it is to borrow from international capital markets. Over the past years, interest rates have been extremely low, in some cases negative for some developed, economies. That may change, but the fiscal and financial leeway from many developing countries is limited to closing the Nature-based Solutions investment gap. This puts us an onus on G20 countries to lead by example. The G20 Environment Communiqué towards achieving the goal “Living in harmony with nature” and making sure that it’s on the path to recovery, puts even more emphasis and responsibility on the need for the richest nations to lead by example for their own countries, but also to see what can be done in the context of the three Rio Conventions, of ODA, and catalyzing sustainable and private investments.
  • I would like to highlight another point, which makes the case to invest in non-OECD countries. From a purely economic perspective, it is often more cost-effective to invest in Nature-based Solutions in non-G20 countries than it is in G20 countries, simply because the operational cost, or capital expenditure costs are lower on the productive basis. Obviously, there are other issues such as social-political risk and credit risk that are attached to it. But when you look at the actual effectiveness from a land degradation, climate and nature perspective, often it is more beneficial to invest in non-G20 countries.
  • In order to meet the established targets, G20 countries need to invest an additional 165 billion USD per year by 2050, on top of the 120 billion USD being invested on an annual basis at the present. Global investment in Nature-based Solutions needs to increase four-fold by 2050 on an annual basis, to 536 billion USD per year. This is a very conservative estimate because we have only looked at land-related Nature-based Solutions – we will endeavour to include the marine environment. Moreover, we have used a 2º climate scenario, and the Glasgow COP 26 was all about keeping 1.5º degrees given the massive difference that society will face if we are breaching 1.5º of warming.
  • There is also a need for a standardized approach to value and defining Nature-based Solutions. There are markers, of course, for climate and biodiversity. However, there are no markers for Nature-based Solutions. It is a topic that itself has led to a lot of discussions. But we feel that it is needed to have a standardized approach to how we define, frame and track Nature-based Solutions and pass this report as a starting point, on which to build.
  • The need to align economic recovery post COVID19 with the international nature and climate targets is of paramount importance. I would very much like that the CBD, in consultation with member states, is successful in putting forward an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework post-2020.
  • Scaling-up domestic, private and ODA spending is critical, including the repurposing of fiscal policies. Claudia’s example of the Environment and Agricultural Ministries working together to see not so much how fiscal policies can be reduced, but how they can be repurposed and formed to help farmers but to do so in a way that transforms food systems, is extremely important.
  • The last point I would like to highlight is “Increase efficiency through increased investments in projects in non-G20 countries.

Q&A I Moderated by Justin ADAMS

The last recommendations sound good, but we are falling so far short. What are the one or two realistic things that we really need to see this year if we are going to start to close the gap?


  • Maybe just two quick points. One, at the COP26 we saw an agreement to ratchet up the NDC again this year before COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh. I think we have an opportunity at COP15 to use this as a moment for those enhanced contributions to the NDCs that the Nature-based Solutions can provide. We already saw some good moves in this direction in Glasgow, but let’s use Kunming as an additional opportunity for countries to step up their game of investing in Nature-based Solutions, which will contribute to starting the Post-2020 Framework, but also contribute to the climate agenda.
  • A second point, looking at Ivo’s presentation on the problem of the fiscal space in developing countries with a lot of non-G20 countries, is that a lot of these limitations in the fiscal space is created by debt. What is the role of debt relief? Can we expect some further initiatives additional to the limited ones we saw in terms of COVID19 response?

Claudia HIEPE | Germany

  • I want to highlight one of the points listed, the fiscal policies. It is not easy, but it is key. Second, I see a momentum that arose from the Climate COP26, that there is now a greater focus on adaptation, and I see great potential for Nature-based Solutions. I also think it would be good to turn more to sectors like agriculture and urban development, which have been neglected in the Nature-based Solutions debate.
  • Regarding the debt issue, we must think about it together because we know the fiscal space these days in developing countries is very tight. I want to clarify that the NDC partnership is not real yet, but we have been thinking about how we can bring it together. We are not channelling finance through the NDC partnership, it is not planned for now.


  • Everybody talks about the necessity to scale up private finance, and unless we change the market conditions through fiscal policies, trade-related tariffs, or paying the true price of food as Peter Bakker from WBCSD would say, we will basically have to incentivize banks and investors to do it differently than they have been doing to date. Providing capital at below-market rates is a good lever to make that happen.
  • One problem now is that Convergence put out reports that showed that the amount of concession finance dropped 50% last year. The second problem is that even if this is made available through multilateral funds or from governments, it often takes a relatively long-time, and it comes with high transaction costs. So, the total amount needs to increase, but also the speed by which this is being approved and made available to impact investors, institutional investors, development banks and others, needs to scale up.
  • With inflation rising in many developed economies, there is a high likelihood that interest rates at some stage will rise, including for sovereign debt. I think there is a small window of opportunity before that happens, to borrow at virtually zero interest, or even negative interest to, for example, set up nature and climate emergency funds. That could be one opportunity for G20 nations to consider.

I do not want to get into a deep technical debate about the report and the findings, but I wonder how did you calculate some of the values for G20 and non-G20 countries?

Mateo SALAZAR | VividEconomics

  • There are two different methodologies, one for current investments and another very different for the calculation of future investment needs. On current investments, the strategy was to get as close to the asset level as possible in every way. We did not look into pledged amounts, we did not look at transactions that are further away from the asset level. We looked at how much money is actually flowing into the assets. What that means is that we do consider the physical location of the asset when we split the two current investment needs.
  • Having said that, for private investments, if you look at the report, the data is very scarce and we had to make some strong assumptions to actually estimate the indication of where actual investments are being made by the private sector because there are supply chain considerations. and all sorts of complications that make that assumption.
  • In future investment needs, we used an integrated assessment model called MAgPIE developed by the Postdam Institute for Climate, and basically, what it does is to look at the investment needs that will happen in each geography. It is very much a spatial model, so we looked not only at G20 versus non-G20, but we have very small grid cells where we know how much money is going to be needed to get to our 2050 target for climate, biodiversity and land degradation.

I think a lot of what you are laying out is in the appendix of the report for people to see, and certainly in the appendix of the original 2021 report as well. This also highlights that we have not gotten an established methodology for tracking investments. And part of this work is to start to create a regular cycle of reporting what we are seeing, tracking the investments that are coming in. We all know that we manage what we measure, so let’s start measuring this investment. And this is a key thing that we hope this report will stimulate.

I want to ask now how we see this type of data coming out and how that might affect donor thinking in terms of access to funding, particularly for some of the more vulnerable populations like the Small Island States, the indigenous peoples and the social dimension. I know this is important for you, Claudia, and for all the work BMZ does. Then the following question to Ivo is, the report considered this opportunity of incentivizing people in different ways, or does that come next?

Claudia HIEPE | Germany

  • Yes, indeed, of course, like least developed countries are, we have a major focus in our projects and, it is also about incentives. There was another question on the barriers to changing the fiscal policy. The answer is that the cross-sector cooperation between ministries, even in Germany, is not always the best, and this is the same around the world. We must showcase this on the ground, and it is what we do in our partner countries where there is will. We can provide good examples and financial incentives, then hopefully, a smaller effort can be upgraded and taken up by the government.
  • I want to come back to another question on insurance. We are supporting the InsuResilience initiatives which are also linked to Nature-based Solutions. They provide products, they have a platform, and it is also a very interesting innovative approach to link the private sector and Nature-based Solutions in very vulnerable countries.


  • It is not by a wish, but indeed, from a perspective of data, budget and timing, that we excluded oceans. The reports we are envisioning for 2022 will also include the marine environment.
  • On other questions about parameters for lenders, I think it is interesting. As people probably know, the European Commission has put out the Sustainable Financial Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), so the necessity for lenders and investors to disclose as well, is called in taxonomy sustainable finance. This basically indicates what is deemed sustainable and what is not, which was first debated from a technical perspective and later from a political perspective, but they are both lenders. NGOs and other organizations were able to work and inform the European Commission about how the taxonomy needed to be structured. So other parameters for lenders influencing governments’ Nature-based Solutions policies, not by default but by developing a taxonomy for sustainable finance. This is, for example, not also in development in Indonesia and in other countries. Both lenders and other organizations have the possibility to inform what is being deemed sustainable for different sectors, including agriculture, forestry and other sectors for which Nature-based Solutions are very relevant.

From the report, the private sector often looks at nature and thinks about how can it invest in a way to unlock value. But I wonder if the panellists could give one or two examples of where and how they see that we are going to mobilize the private sector. There are a couple of questions on the carbon market, which is often a default option as we talk about Nature-based Solutions, but it is only one of the instruments that we need to be thinking about.


  • The key leverage for the private sector is perhaps looking at these dependencies and impacts. We certainly look forward to the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures that the Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Mrema co-chairs, as helping to move this along. We know that they will come out to the show with a beta version if you like, of a framework to facilitate that so the private sector can progressively reduce those negative impacts and progressively increase the positive ones.
  • The other key thing is what I mentioned earlier in relation to carbon markets and other ways the private sector is incentivized to invest in Nature-based Solutions. It is important making sure that those safeguards are in place. We saw good progress in Glasgow COP26 in terms of compromise towards making sure that we see additionality where there is a limited capacity for offsetting. We need to learn from the experience of REDD+, to make sure that investments are good for nature. We need to be ecologically literate in the way we do this, and also with the local communities and indigenous peoples.

Claudia HIEPE | Germany

  • I think it is very important to combine financing facilities and technical support. It is not just about big funds, it has to go along with technical support to ensure that it is done properly, that there are monitoring systems and good examples with the safeguards in place, etcetera.


  • The private and finance sector needs a stable and predictable revenue flow, and that is exactly not what the voluntary carbon market has provided. With the Race to Zero, and with a lot of companies having pledged to invest in Nature-based Solutions as a means to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, there is an increased demand. What it would need to be coupled with is a floor price so a project developer or investor would know that a certain price will not go below a certain level, and if so, there would be a fund or mechanism that would shore it up, and that those who are investing in it would know that they can quantify future cash flows discounted at the present time.

Mateo SALAZAR | VividEconomics

  • The only question that remains to be answered from the technical side of things is about publishing targets in terms of areas, instead of investment needs.  We might take that into account for a future iteration of this exercise because there is plenty of space to improve the data exercise that was done here. We should take this as a start starting point rather than an endpoint.

Closing | Justin ADAMS, WEF

  • I recognize that we had a very broad conversation, but I will take four points.
    • Everybody on this call understands the critical importance of nature; it has raised up the agenda; and this critical year we have the confluence of the three COPS, the UNFCCC, UNCBD and UNCCD. So, how do we continue to build the great momentum in nature we saw from Glasgow to Kunming to move this forward?
    • Secondly, this report continues to highlight the extraordinary gap that we have. We have got lots of nice words, but how do we start getting serious about closing the gap?
    • Thirdly, we have got some good examples, we know what needs to be done, but we are not doing nearly enough. So how do we now start bringing those real examples to life, whether it is on subsidy reforms or in some of the more promising cutting-edge ODA type opportunities, some repurposing domestic policy towards ensuring nature positive outcomes?
    • Fourthly, what we desperately need is partnerships, and sometimes it slows us down, but it is the only way we are going to solve this is. If we want to unlock the private sector, we need it to be aligned with how the public sector and policy a going to work. How do we think about the insurance? What role can ODA play to bring more private sector in? We are going to have to get smarter about that if we are serious. So lots of opportunities, but also lots of challenges with that.


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