World Earth Day: Investing in our planet to secure the future
Every April 22nd, the world celebrates Earth Day, an event that aims to raise awareness of environmental issues and biodiversity conservation in a scenario where the effects of climate change and overpopulation threaten the planet's subsistence.
This 2022, Earth Day turns 52 years old, since it was first celebrated in 1970, at the suggestion of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who dreamed of creating a common awareness of the problems that were endangering our planet. Thus, the United Nations, noting that Earth Day was celebrated every year in many countries, decided in 2009 to set this date as the annual date to pay tribute to our planet.
This year's theme, "Investing in Our Planet," calls for bold action, innovation and changes to promote partnerships between business, society and governments so that we can ensure the survival of the planet for generations to come. However, despite efforts to preserve the health of our planet, the need for investment to meet the new challenges is evident.
The latest State of Nature Finance report, produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Economic Forum and the Land Degradation Economics Initiative, indicates that increased investment in nature is urgently needed "to close climate and biodiversity finance gaps and to address the need to accelerate land restoration across the planet." It also details that current investments need to triple by 2030.
But how much investment is needed in our planet? The same report details that our planet would need an investment of $8.1 trillion by 2050 to address the triple planetary crisis (climate, biodiversity and land degradation crisis), which means an annual investment of $536 billion. This hypothetical annual investment is much higher than today, as in 2020 the budget that governments, companies and financial institutions allocated from their budget to nature-based solutions was $133 billion per year.
Why should we invest in our planet?
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political and social upheaval we are experiencing, humanity seems to have experienced a shift in environmental awareness indicating that it is time to change everything.
Climate change, which threatens human and planetary well-being, has dangerous effects on nature and is affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. Despite efforts to reduce the risks, in the next two decades the planet will face several climate hazards if we fail to reduce global warming.
Investing in our planet is essential to ensure our life as we know it
Indeed, according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), adaptation measures to climate change are urgently needed, but progress on adaptation is uneven.
The first obstacle to effective action is the level of income. Lower-income populations find it much more difficult to take measures to preserve the planet and ensure sustainability, and the gaps between the measures taken and what is needed to cope with the growing risks are widening.
Therefore, investing in our planet, in actions to adapt to climate change, and in solutions to preserve biodiversity is essential to ensure our life as we know it.
Private and public companies, as well as associations and administrations, and society in general, must integrate nature into the economic system, enacting policies that promote its care, and investing in training, dissemination and construction of systems that allow us to adapt to new climate challenges, since the effects of global warming are a reality and society must seek resilience, changing its way of life.
In this sense, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved in the framework of the 2030 Agenda by the United Nations Organization in 2015 indicate in its SDG 7 the need to support universal access to affordable and clean energy, as well as investment in infrastructure to achieve sustainable development in SDG 9.
It is urgent to increase investment in nature to ensure the survival of the planet for future generations
Renewable energies, as well as improvements in water treatment and collection systems, must seek efficiency in order to reduce their CO2 emissions, and this implies a significant monetary outlay that countries and world economies must assume in order to ensure their future.
Finally, we must pay special attention to training. Investing in environmental education is vital so that future generations learn to care for and respect the planet, are aware of its limitations and can take advantage of its full potential without damaging it. The knowledge acquired will also provide humanity with the environmental intelligence to face new challenges without compromising nature.
Water on Earth Day
Earth Day is also an opportunity to appreciate what the planet gives us and how we should preserve it. In the case of water, freshwater ecosystems constitute one of the most vibrant terrestrial habitats and are a source of life for everyone on Earth.
However, many of our planet's freshwater sources are polluted and overexploited, and their existence is compromised.
Thus, on this Earth Day we must also advocate for finding solutions to conserve our water ecosystems without jeopardizing their sustainability, for finding new ways to obtain safe water without polluting the planet, and for seeking measures to address new climatic challenges that modify or alter the hydrological cycle, such as floods or droughts.
Earth Day is also an opportunity to appreciate what the planet gives us and how to preserve it
We cannot forget that our planet's natural resources are the basis of the global economic system, and sectors such as agriculture and food depend entirely on nature. It is therefore necessary to invest in sustainable actions and address future and present challenges such as food security, water security and sustainability and biodiversity loss.
In this sense, the Sustainable Development Goals also allude to water, including in SDG 6 the need to ensure clean water and universal sanitation, as one more way to take care of our planet and all of us who live on it.
Earth Day is not only an important day for the planet and all of us who inhabit it, but also an important day for human rights, a day on which we must understand that caring for our planet is everyone's responsibility and that our alliance with it depends on everyone.
Because if we do not invest in our planet, there will be no possible future.