The other side of the coin is lack of investment for sustainable development opportunities such as management of protected areas, ecologically sound renewable energy technology or sustainable tourism development. An important reason for this trend is that the benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services we are receiving from nature are not sufficiently appreciated and taken into account.
Cutting an old growth forest for the production of pellets may generate cash, but comes at a steep loss for communities and society as a whole in terms of biodiversity loss, carbon emissions and erosion. These valuable goods and services that nature supplies and on which we depend do not appear in economic accounts.
WWF believes that this needs to change for the benefit of nature and people alike. We want to help societies in moving towards a Green Economy that provides resilient jobs, ensures the well-being of people, and keeps the natural environment intact.
Over the coming years, we will monitor the way funds are spent, playing a watchdog or advisory role depending on the circumstances, and provide our views on future EU funding programmes beyond 2020. Supported by other WWF offices and partners, we are also trying to green the investment portfolio of the European Investment Banks (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Policies that promote the maintenance of ecosystem services: Over the past five years, we have been piloting ecosystem service assessment and valuation studies as well as Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) schemes and other innovative finance instruments, demonstrating to private entrepreneurs and authorities the benefits of natural capital to businesses and society.
We are now in the process of anchoring these approaches in national and local policies and legislation by working closely with governmental bodies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bulgaria. The Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES) process under the EU Biodiversity Strategy is both strengthening these efforts and profiting from WWF´s experience on the ground.
Reconciling renewable energy and biodiversity conservation: While advocating the shift to a 100% renewable energy future as an essential element of sustainable development, WWF is aware of the impact on biodiversity that all forms of energy investment, including renewable energy infrastructure such as hydropower plants or windmills, can have on the environment.
However, we believe that such impacts can be minimised through careful planning. We have developed planning tools and are searching for funds and partners to develop a comprehensive tool box in support of developing truly green energy development scenarios for the future.
Making local stakeholders benefit from nature conservation: Nature conservation needs the support of people to be sustainable – and this will not be possible over the long-run if communities on and next to protected areas and wildlife corridors have only restrictions and no benefits from nature conservation. Therefore, WWF works with local entrepreneurs, communities and authorities to develop solutions for local livelihoods that support and profit from nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.