IMF/World Bank: Nature falls on deaf ears


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A World Bank meeting session on tackling biodiversity and climate change failed to find its audience.

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During the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in October, the bank hosted a session called ‘Invest in nature’.

A panel outlined the pressing risks of the continued degradation of nature and shared examples of how policy changes and stakeholder collaboration could lead to action and capital allocation.

“We are destroying nature,” began Sir Robert Watson of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, describing the Paris Pledge as “totally and utterly inadequate ” and that we are “on a pathway towards 3 to 4 degrees Celsius” – a level of global warming scientists say will bring devastating environmental change.

“We have got to get a handle on it. The rhetoric is there, but the action is not,” continued Watson, adding that if we do not tackle biodiversity and climate change, none of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will be met. “We need to change the way we change – incremental change is not going to get us there – and look at climate and biodiversity together.”

It was a serious message banks and asset managers needed to hear, given the increasing environmental risk building in the system and growing disappointment at the slow pace of change of traditional finance.

In a case of unfortunate timing however, banks and investment managers were nowhere to be seen in the audience. The session clashed with the Institute of International Finance’s annual membership meeting, as well as the Sustainable Finance Policy Summit held by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative and Principles for Responsible Investment.