Without bees, future generations may not be able to identify with adages like, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.'
Crop yields for key crops like apples, cherries and blueberries are down across the U.S. because of a lack of bees in agricultural areas, a Rutgers University-led study published Wednesday in The Royal Society found. This could have "serious ramifications" for global food security, reported The Guardian.
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By Francesca DiGiorgio
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to increase federal aid for emergency food distribution in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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By Katie Howell
More than 6,000 plant species have been cultivated for food worldwide, but only nine account for the majority of total crop production, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO finds that crop diversity is continuing to decline across the globe because of unsustainable agricultural practices, industrialization, and increased urbanization.
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By Isabelle Gerretsen
"When I told people I was going to grow tomatoes in the desert, they thought I was crazy," Sky Kurtz, founder of Pure Harvest Smart Farms, told DW.
Water Scarcity and Fossil-Fuel Reliance<p>The technology uses minimal land and up to 95% less water than conventional agriculture. </p><p>The hydroponics system places the plants' roots directly into a water-based and nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. This "closed loop" system captures and recirculates all the water, rather than allowing it to drain away — useful for a country like the UAE suffering from extremely high water stress.</p><p>Globally, agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawals, and UAE is extracting groundwater faster than it can be replenished, according to the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA).</p><p>"Water is very expensive over in the UAE, but energy is cheap as it is subsidized," says Jan Westra, a strategic business developer at Priva, a company providing technology to vertical farms.</p><p>The artificially controlled environment is energy intensive because the air conditioning and LED lights need a constant source of electricity.</p><p>This bringing forth of life in the desert could come at a high environmental cost. Most of that energy comes from carbon-emitting fossil fuels, even as the Middle Eastern country feel the effects of climate change.</p><p>By 2050 Abu Dhabi's average temperature is <a href="https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TOASCJ-13-56" target="_blank">predicted to increase by around 2.5°C</a> (36.5 F) in a business-as-usual scenario. Over the next 70 years patterns of rainfall are also expected to change.</p>
Integrating Renewable Energy<p>Although Pure Harvest is building a solar-powered farm in neighboring Saudi Arabia, its UAE operations get electricity from the carbon-intensive national grid.</p><p>Investing more in renewables "is a goal of ours," Kurtz told DW. He said the company has not set a clean energy target but is working on various green power projects, including a plan to integrate solar power generated in UAE into its operations. </p><p>However, Willem van der Schans, a researcher specializing in short supply chains at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, says sustainability and clean energy should be "inherent in the technology and included in plans when starting a vertical farm." </p><p>He argues that many vertical farming companies are not sustainable in terms of energy as they still view clean power as an optional "add-on."</p><p>Ismahane Elouafi, director general of the government funded ICBA in Abu Dhabi, acknowledges that vertical farming has some way to go before achieving "real sustainability," but she believes the innovations are "promising."</p><p>Improved battery storage, increasingly efficient LED lights and cheaper solar panels will help, she adds. </p>
Local Solutions<p>By 2050, the UAE government wants to generate almost half its energy from renewable sources.</p><p>Fred Ruijgt, a vertical farming specialist at Priva, argues that it's important to factor transport and refrigeration into the energy equation. Vertical farming uses more energy to grow crops than traditional agriculture, but because crops are grown locally, they do not have to be transported by air, sea or truck over long distances. </p><p>"The energy saving is difficult to calculate exactly, but the advantages of locally grown crops are huge," he says, adding that those grown in vertical farms not only use less water and pesticides, but that they also have a longer shelf life due to minimal transportation time. </p>
Food Security and Coronavirus<p>In 2018, the UAE set out its vision to become a hub for high-tech local food production.</p><p>Companies and investors have flocked to the region, attracted by the 0% corporate tax rate, low labor costs and cheap energy. With their help, UAE aims to reduce its reliance on imports and make its food system more resilient to shocks like climate change and pandemics. </p><p>Oshima from Aerofarms says the coronavirus pandemic has brought "greater appreciation of how fragile the supply chain is and raised questions about food safety and security."</p><p>When the UAE went into lockdown in April, imported supplies of perishable goods like vegetables fell and business boomed for local suppliers.</p><p>ICBA's Elouafi said they have helped keep the UAE well-stocked during the pandemic.</p><p>"With the help of local food production and adequate imports, there has been absolutely no shortage of food in the UAE," Elouafi told DW.</p><p>Climate change, however, poses an altogether more complex threat to the country in the long-term. Given climate change's likely impact on food production, she says vertical farming has shown it is "an economically viable proposition even with harsh climatic conditions."</p>
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By Michael Fakhri and Ntina Tzouvala
According to a new United Nations report, global rates of hunger and malnutrition are on the rise. The report estimates that in 2019, 690 million people – 8.9% of the world's population – were undernourished. It predicts that this number will exceed 840 million by 2030.
How Much Should Healthy Food Cost?<p>Experts have debated for years how best to measure hunger and malnutrition. In the past, the U.N. focused almost exclusively on calories – an approach that researchers and advocacy groups <a href="http://archive.wphna.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2013-Ethics-Int-Aff-Francis-Moore-Lappe-et-al-Counting-hunger.pdf" target="_blank">criticized as too narrow</a>.</p><p>This year's report takes a more thoughtful approach that focuses on access to healthy diets. One thing it found is that when governments primarily focused on making sure people had enough calories, they did so by supporting large transnational corporations and by making fatty, sweet and highly-processed foods cheap and accessible.</p><p>This perspective raises some important issues about the global political economy of food. As the new report points out, people who live at the current global poverty level of US$1.90 per day cannot feasibly secure access to a healthy diet, even under the most optimistic scenarios.</p><p><span></span>More broadly, the U.N. report addresses one of the longest-running debates in agriculture: What is a fair price for healthy food?</p><p><span></span>One thing everyone agrees on is that a plant-heavy diet is best for human health and the planet. But if prices for fruits and vegetables are too low, then farmers can't make a living, and will grow something more lucrative or quit farming altogether. And costs eventually go up for consumers as the supply dwindles. Conversely, if the price is too high, then most people can't afford healthy food and will resort to eating whatever they can afford – often, cheap processed foods.</p>
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The Role of Governments<p>Food prices don't just reflect supply and demand. As the report notes, government policies always directly or indirectly influence them.</p><p>Some countries raise taxes at the border, making imported food more expensive in order to protect local producers and ensure a stable supply of food. Rich countries like the U.S., Canada, and in the EU heavily subsidize their farming sectors.</p><p>Governments can also spend public money on programs like farmer education or school meals, or invest in better roads and storage facilities. Another option is to grant people living in poverty food vouchers or cash to buy food, or to ensure everyone has a basic income that allows them to cover their fundamental spending. There's a host of ways in which governments can make sure food prices allow producers to make a living and consumers to afford healthy meals.</p>
The Human Cost of Cheap Food<p>The U.N. report focuses on trying to make sure that food is as cheap as possible. This is limited in a number of ways.</p><p>New <a href="https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-paradox" target="_blank">research</a> highlights that mostly focusing on <a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520299931/a-history-of-the-world-in-seven-cheap-things" target="_blank">cheap prices</a> can promote environmental damage and brutal economic systems. That's because only large corporations can afford to compete in a market committed to cheap food. As our research has shown, <a href="https://www.academia.edu/30170463/Food_for_the_Global_Market_The_Neoliberal_Reconstruction_of_Agriculture_in_Occupied_Iraq" target="_blank">today</a> and in the <a href="https://uoregon.academia.edu/MichaelFakhri" target="_blank">past</a>, people's access to food is usually determined by how much power is concentrated in the hands of the few.</p>
<div id="68c2c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3b52ed2e8c0a86bc4d0075279238dc4a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1282318358864699392" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">meatpacker #Toennies slaughterhouse in #Germany under fire for requesting government support after #COVID19… https://t.co/RzRN023XIS</div> — Hiro (@Hiro)<a href="https://twitter.com/mnDonotpanic/statuses/1282318358864699392">1594563495.0</a></blockquote></div><p>One current example is <a href="https://news.trust.org/item/20200612121508-ftbpr" target="_blank">meatpacking plants</a>, which have been coronavirus transmission centers in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Europe. To keep prices low, people work shoulder-to-shoulder <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-understand-the-danger-of-covid-19-outbreaks-in-meatpacking-plants-look-at-the-industrys-history-137367" target="_blank">processing meat at an incredible speed</a>. During the pandemic, these conditions have enabled the virus to spread among workers, and outbreaks in factories have then spread the virus to nearby communities.</p><p>New international standards allow factories to continue to operate, but in a way that <a href="http://www.iuf.org/show.php?lang=en&tid=36" target="_blank">protects workers</a>. In our view, governments are not adequately enforcing these safety standards to stop the spread of the virus. Globally, four corporations – Brazil's JBS, Tyson and Cargill in the United States, and Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods – dominate the meat-producing sector. Studies have shown that they are able to <a href="https://www.iatp.org/blog/leaders-global-meat-complex" target="_blank">lobby and influence government policy</a> in ways that prioritize profit over worker and community safety.</p><p>Our work has convinced us that the best way for governments to make sure that everyone has access to good food is to view a healthy diet as a human right. This means first understanding who has the most power over food supplies. Ultimately, it means making sure that the health, safety and dignity of people who produce the world's food is a central part of the conversation about the cost of healthy diets.</p>
By Danielle Nierenberg
Since the first episode of Food Talk Live aired on March 19, our twice-daily live conversation series has featured nearly 150 food system experts, advocates, scientists, chefs and more.
How do we rectify racial inequities in land ownership?<p>"As a result of colonial genocide, land grabbing, USDA discrimination, state-level nativism, lynching, and expulsion, over 98% of the farmland in this county is owned by white Americans today. Ralph Paige of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives put it simply, "Land is the only real wealth in this country and if we don't own any we'll be out of the picture." We need a nationwide commitment to share the land back, so that all communities can have the means of production for food security."</p><p>— Leah Penniman, founder and director of Soul Fire Farm. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10055-3" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How impactful can collective agricultural labor unions be to protect farm workers?<p>"In 2019, through our collective bargaining procedures, we resolved cases on wage issues amounting to over US$800,000 dollars. If they were non-union, that money would have been lost to the worker's pocket. If this is what we recoup for workers in the union setting, imagine what must be happening in non-union settings."</p><p>— Baldemar Velásquez, founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/06/new-on-the-podcast-baldemar-velasquez-on-amplifying-the-voices-of-migrant-farmworkers/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What does it mean to support local, regional, and sustainable food by engaging in good food purchasing?<p>"This is a time I think of as a great reckoning. Seeing the public interest in food and how important food is as a public service is how procurement works — it aligns the purchasing power of government institutions with what the values of the public are. I think an important next step would be to have city or municipal leaders set aggregate purchasing targets and invite, encourage, persuade all large food service institutions to participate in setting these aggregate targets. And then you can really start making accelerated change in the local food economy, which is something we know we need to build back right now. The idea of good food purchasing is to support equity and to support creating economic opportunity for those who have not had that economic opportunity."</p><p>— Paula Daniels, co-founder, chair of the board, and chief of what's next at the Center for Good Food Purchasing. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/new-on-the-podcast-didier-toubia-on-cultivated-meat-and-paula-daniels-on-good-food-purchasing-policies/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What is the importance of “middle-man” food processors in supporting local farm-based food systems?<p>"Can we imagine how to circle out of this in a way that is better than what we had before? I want to shine an uncomfortable light on the farm-to-table movement. It turns out to have a very weak link. I don't know that the answer is to return to that moment, because what this shows is that it wasn't as strong in conception of feeding people and a food system moving forward as we would've imagined."</p><p>— Dan Barber, executive chef and co-founder of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/04/dan-barber-and-luke-saunders-on-keeping-the-farm-to-community-connection-during-covid-19/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What can we do to make regenerative farming not only the norm, but affordable?<p>"We need to realize that economic justice and the growth of organic and regenerative food and farming and land use go together. We can't have one without the other. That's what's so beautiful about this Green New Deal."</p><p>— Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the Organic Consumers Association. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/04/cummins-talks-green-new-deal-regenerative-agriculture-covid-19/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
How can traditional resource-management techniques lay the foundation for food sovereignty?<p><em>"Tagal</em> is a traditional fisheries management practice in [the Malaysian state of] Sabah, in which communities swear oaths to nurture wild fisheries until they teem with river carp, and then open them, by agreement, for communal consumption at special times. During COVID-19 the power of tagal has therefore also become a key topic: how communities who have reinvigorated their culture of river stewardship have been able to access their own protein resources in their places."</p><p>— Cynthia Ong & Kenneth Wilson of Forever Sabah in Sabah, Malaysia. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10082-0" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
What role can mutual aid and distributive food systems play in feeding our communities?<p>"Resilience and regeneration are not a given, they need to be purposefully nurtured. We therefore need to invest and facilitate the creation of distributive food systems based on local needs and capacities that assure a fair redistribution of value, knowledge and power across actors and territories to deliver sustainable food for all."</p><p>— Ana Moragues-Faus, professor of economics and business, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10087-9" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How can greater public funding drive food innovation in Latin America and the Global South?<p>"One of the forgotten links in all these food systems, connections between agriculture, nutrition, and health, is that you need knowledge. You need to do some research, and then you need to innovate. … If we can put trillions and trillions of dollars into good research on safeguarding the economy, we should also be putting in quite a bit of funding for health and food systems."</p><p>— Ruben Echeverria, senior research fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute and research associate at the Latin American Center for Rural Development. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/05/new-on-the-podcast-john-piotti-discusses-a-farmers-relief-fund-and-ruben-echeverria-talks-global-food-policy/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What role can entrepreneurs play in building a better food system?<p>"We have this really beautiful rich, diverse country where we can produce and we can create so much wealth for all of us, and it's now about zooming in and resourcing these gaps that we know exist."</p><p>— Caesaré Assad, CEO of accelerator Food System 6. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/03/caesare-assad-on-the-food-system-covid-19/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
How do we build a new European community-based sustainable food system that doesn’t replicate the past?<p>"My vision is for a new food economy with more and more of us growing a percentage of our own food, and preferentially purchasing in season and local food from local and sustainable farmers. This future food system will not be identical to those that I remember from my childhood in the '50s and '60s, since the world has changed since then. The internet and other related digital innovations including on-line marketing, and the emergence of farmers markets and community supported agriculture, are all expressions of the boundless innovation of humanity. So, let us hope that the farming community will prosper and come to play a more central role in our future food systems. Let the new food revolution flourish and thrive!"</p><p>— Patrick Holden, British farmer and founder of Sustainable Food Trust. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10049-1" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How can we understand and prepare for the connections between COVID-19 and diet health?<p>"Because [the pandemic of diet-related disease] has happened over 30 to 40 years, we've ignored that equivalent or even larger pandemic. And now they're coming together, and we're seeing that we set up an environment of people with poor metabolic health who are predisposed to COVID. … We have not invested in the science that we should have invested in up until this point, to have answers to these questions. People are talking about stocking personal protective equipment and stocking ventilators and stocking vaccines — but what about stocking science on food and health and nutrition? That would've been incredibly important."</p><p>—Dariush Mozaffarian, cardiologist and dean of the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/05/new-on-the-podcast-dr-dariush-mozaffarian-on-creating-healthier-american-diets-and-nutrition-programs/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
How is localized, diverse seed security vital to our food security and national security?<p>"As the world slowly rebuilds and recovers, we all have a fresh opportunity to regenerate and share a greater diversity of seeds—and to honor and return benefits to traditional seed keepers from many cultures. We would be remiss not to sow true, place-based seed sovereignty in every region and among every culture on this planet, well before a future crisis could uproot us again."</p><p>— Gary Paul Nabhan, ethnobotanist and co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/a-call-for-community-based-seed-diversity-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How has the COVID-19 crisis played into forces of industrialization threatening Iranian smallholder farmers?<p>"There is an irony in expecting governments to kick into action in an emergency to support people and production systems that they actively undermine in the best of times. This shows that COVID-19 is not impacting food systems in a vacuum, but is in fact a shock to an ongoing struggle for power and survival. Like many smallholder producers worldwide who make a massive contribution to food security, pastoralists struggle against forces that seek to upend their way of life in favor of industrial food systems."</p><p>— Maryam Rahmanian & Nahid Naghizadeh of the Centre for Sustainable Development in Tehran, Iran. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10093-x" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How do we encourage young Africans to stay on farms and improve agriculture on the continent?<p>"I would argue that what is missing in the [agricultural] sector is those young people who have access to productive resources and have the knowledge and the skillset that can help improve productivity. … If we want young people to stay in agriculture, then we have to make agriculture profitable for those young people. And for agriculture to be profitable, it has to be productive. Giving them access to those productive resources that will allow them to increase the productivity of agriculture will be critical."</p><p>— Felix Kwame Yeboah, social science researcher and professor of international development at Michigan State University. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/06/new-on-the-podcast-dr-felix-kwame-yeboah-on-youth-powered-agricultural-development/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
Finally, what will it take to help us use suffering as a springboard into liberation?<p>"We're all suffering. But at the end of the day, folks, what makes us strong is our belief in one another, that we will come together to help one another get back on our feet. … This is our time, this is our moment to not go back to politics and Wall Street, but to move forward. It's more about people than profits. This is our time to move forward and change the system."</p><p>— Karen Washington, farmer and founder of Rise and Root Farm. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=227538081894588&ref=watch_permalink" target="_blank">Watch more here</a></p>
By Katie Howell
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Andrea Germanos
Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.
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By Meg Wilcox
As U.S. food assistance programs grapple with overwhelming demand during the coronavirus pandemic, some in New England are finding support from unusual partners—renewable energy companies.
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By Marie Quinney
Biodiversity is critically important – to your health, to your safety and, probably, to your business or livelihood.
1. Biodiversity Ensures Health and Food Security.<p>Biodiversity underpins global nutrition and food security. Millions of species work together to provide us with a <a href="https://www.cbd.int/health/doc/Summary-SOK-Final.pdf" target="_blank">large array of fruits, vegetables and animal products essential to a healthy, balanced diet</a> – but they are increasingly under threat.</p><p>Every country has indigenous produce – such as wild greens and grains – which have adapted to local conditions, making them more resilient to pests and extreme weather. In the past, this produce provided much-needed micronutrients for local populations. Unfortunately, however, the <a href="http://www.fao.org/3/a-i1620e.pdf" target="_blank">simplification of diets, processed foods and poor access to food have led to poor-quality diets</a>. As a result, <a href="https://www.bioversityinternational.org/research-portfolio/diet-diversity/biodiversity-for-food-and-nutrition/" target="_blank">one-third of the world suffers from micronutrient deficiencies</a>.</p><p>Three crops – wheat, corn and rice – <a href="https://enviroliteracy.org/food/crops/" target="_blank">provide almost 60% of total plant-based calories consumed by humans</a>. This leads to reduced resiliency in our supply chains and on our plates. For example, <a href="http://www.fao.org/3/a-i1620e.pdf" target="_blank">the number of rice varieties cultivated in Asia has dropped from tens of thousands to just a few dozen; in Thailand, 50% of land used for growing rice only produces two varieties</a>.</p><p>People once understood that the conservation of species was crucial for healthy societies and ecosystems. We must ensure this knowledge remains part of our modern agricultural and food systems to prevent diet-related diseases and reduce the environmental impact of feeding ourselves.</p>
2. Biodiversity Helps Fight Disease.<p>Higher rates of biodiversity have been linked to an increase in human health.</p><p>First, plants are essential for medicines. For example, <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_New_Nature_Economy_Report_2020.pdf" target="_blank">25% of drugs used in modern medicine are derived from rainforest plants</a> while <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_New_Nature_Economy_Report_2020.pdf" target="_blank">70% of cancer drugs are natural or synthetic products inspired by nature</a>. This means that every time a species goes extinct, we miss out on a potential new medicine.</p><p>Second, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/news.2010.644" target="_blank">biodiversity due to protected natural areas has been linked to lower instances of disease</a> such as Lyme disease and malaria. While the exact origin of the virus causing COVID-19 is still unknown, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5711306/" target="_blank">60% of infectious diseases originate from animals</a> and <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/631980-Machalaba-Anthropogenic%20Drivers%20of%20Emerging%20Infectious%20Diseases.pdf" target="_blank">70% of emerging infectious diseases originate from wildlife</a>. As human activities encroach upon the natural world, through deforestation and urbanization, we reduce the size and number of ecosystems. As a result, animals live in closer quarters with one another and with humans, creating ideal conditions for the spread of zoonotic diseases.</p><p>Simply put: <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/news.2010.644" target="_blank">more species means less disease</a>.</p>
Human activity is eroding biodiversity. World Economic Forum Nature Risk Rising
3. Biodiversity Benefits Business.<p>According to the World Economic Forum's recent <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_New_Nature_Economy_Report_2020.pdf" target="_blank">Nature Risk Rising Report</a>, more than half of the world's GDP ($44 trillion) is highly or moderately dependent on nature. Many businesses are, therefore, at risk due to increasing nature loss. <a href="https://wwf.panda.org/our_work/biodiversity/protected_areas/arguments_for_protection/goods_services/medicine/" target="_blank">Global sales of pharmaceuticals based on materials of natural origin are worth an estimated $75 billion a year</a>, while natural wonders such as <a href="https://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/all_publications/living_planet_report_2018/" target="_blank">coral reefs are essential to food and tourism.</a></p><p>There is great potential for the economy to grow and become more resilient by ensuring biodiversity. <a href="http://wedocs.unep.org/xmlui/handle/20.500.11822/31813" target="_blank">Every dollar spent on nature restoration leads to at least $9 of economic benefits.</a> In addition, <a href="https://www.foodandlandusecoalition.org/global-report/" target="_blank">changing agricultural and food production methods could unlock $4.5 trillion per year in new business opportunities by 2030</a>, while also preventing trillions of dollars' worth of social and environmental harms.</p>
4. Biodiversity Provides Livelihoods.<p>Humans derive approximately <a href="https://livingplanetindex.org/home/index" target="_blank">$125 trillion of value from natural ecosystems each year</a>. Globally, <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/wwap/wwdr/2016-water-and-jobs/" target="_blank">three out of four jobs</a> are dependent on water while the agricultural sector employs over <a href="https://www.conservation.org/priorities/livelihoods" target="_blank">60% of the world's working poor</a>. In the Global South, forests are the source of livelihoods for <a href="https://www.conservation.org/priorities/livelihoods" target="_blank">over 1.6 billion people</a>. In India, forest ecosystems contribute <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19915547" target="_blank">only 7% to India's GDP yet 57% of rural Indian communities' livelihoods</a>.</p><p><span></span>Ecosystems, therefore, must be protected and restored – not only for the good of nature but also for the communities that depend on them.</p><p>Although some fear environmental regulation and the safeguarding of nature could threaten businesses, the "restoration economy" – the restoration of natural landscapes – provides more jobs in the United States than most of the extractives sector, with the potential to create even more. According to some estimates, the restoration economy is worth <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128339" target="_blank">$25 billion per year and directly employs more than the coal, mining, logging and steel industries altogether</a>. Nature-positive businesses can provide <a href="https://www.greenbiz.com/article/10-things-you-need-know-about-restoration-economy" target="_blank">cost-effective, robot-proof, business-friendly jobs</a> that stimulate the rural economy without harming the environment.</p>
5. Biodiversity Protects Us.<p>Biodiversity makes the earth habitable. Biodiverse ecosystems provide <a href="https://www.nature-basedsolutions.com/" target="_blank">nature-based solutions</a> that buffer us from <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_protect.html" target="_blank">natural disasters such as floods and storms</a>, <a href="https://digital.iucn.org/water/nature-based-solutions-for-water/" target="_blank">filter our water</a> and <a href="https://www.naturebasedsolutionsinitiative.org/publications/the-superior-effect-of-nature-based-solutions-in-land-management-for-enhancing-ecosystem-services/" target="_blank">regenerate our soils</a>.</p><p>The <a href="https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/miracle-mangroves-coastal-protection-numbers" target="_blank">clearance of over 35% of the world's mangroves for human activities</a> has increasingly put people and their homes at risk from floods and sea-level rise. If today's mangroves were lost, 18 million more people would be flooded every year (an increase of 39%) and annual damages to property would increase by 16% ($82 billion).</p><p>Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems is vital to fighting climate change. Nature-based solutions could provide <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/114/44/11645" target="_blank">37% of the cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed by 2030</a> to maintain global warming within 2°C (35.6 F).</p><p>Natural ecosystems provide the foundations for economic growth, human health and prosperity. Our fate as a species is deeply connected to the fate of our natural environment.</p><p>As ecosystems are increasingly threatened by human activity, acknowledging the benefits of biodiversity is the first step in ensuring that we look after it. We know biodiversity matters. Now, as a society, we should protect it – and in doing so, protect our own long-term interests.</p>
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