According to WWF, tens of millions of jobs could be created if government subsidies were diverted into greener activities. The report examined the potential impact on employment of turning the annual $500 billion governments currently invest into environmentally harmful activities.
Guido Broekhoven, WWF’s head of policy, research and development, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation “The transformation of these sectors that drive biodiversity loss can create opportunities. It can create opportunities for nature but also for people and our economy.”
Better conservation and management of natural areas and wildernesses are considered vital to protect the natural systems on which humans depend and to meet targets for reducing planet-warming emissions.
In May, the UN urged governments to fund biodiversity and climate measures from pandemic stimulus packages and to redirect subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural chemicals into activities that nurture nature.
According to the report, redistributing the annual subsidy sum equitably between countries based on their population size would create 39 million new jobs in sectors that benefit nature, largely in east Asia-Pacific, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Charles Barber, a biodiversity advisor at the US-based World Resources Institute, said shifting vast sums away from the “short-term pillage of our forests and oceans” to bolster natural systems would create millions of jobs and a more sustainable future.
At a two-part UN conference in October this year, approximately 195 countries are expected to agree to the text of a new global pact to safeguard the planet’s plants, animals and ecosystems. The final session is now due to conclude at an in-person summit in China from April 25-May 8 next year.
Broekhoven said the WWF report aimed to persuade governments that ditching harmful subsidies is necessary and possible, and can create opportunities.
“The current level of ambition we’re seeing in those negotiations is far too low,” he said.