At nature school to heal humanity and the planet
Everyone is aware, albeit with varying sensitivity, of the ecological and social decay of our planet.
It is evident how nature, with its heritage, including its teachings, is our lifeline; however this is subjected to anthropic pressure which is causing it to deteriorate rapidly. The EU and its countries are making efforts and commitment to restore ecosystems, habitats and species.
In this regard, on Wednesday 12 July 2023 the European Parliament approved the text of the Nature Restoration Law, a law which provides for the restoration of 20% of degraded ecosystems by 2030.
The rule became necessary, in addition to the protection framework that has already existed for decades, such as the Birds and Habitats directives, which safeguard over 2,000 species and natural areas.
Despite these efforts and some limited improvements, however, the most recent assessment of nature in the EU, carried out by the European Environment Agency in 2020, revealed an alarming picture.
Numerous factors are putting pressure on ecosystems and species populations, including:
– climate changes;
– habitat loss;
– invasive species;
– 80% of habitats in poor condition;
– 10% of bee and butterfly species at risk of extinction;
– 70% of land in degraded conditions.
Leaving aside in this context the seriousness of the effects on the world population, on the increasingly frequent climate disasters, and on the migration and poverty dynamics that these entail.
Unfortunately for many, even those who should have a high level of training, such as economists, politicians, researchers, etc. it escapes that nature is the foundation of the world economy. Over half of global GDP depends on the materials and services provided by ecosystems. For example, raw materials are essential for industry and construction, and genetic resources are needed for agriculture and medicine.
Estimates tell us that more than 50% of global GDP is linked to nature and the services it provides (a GDP that is gradually collapsing).
For this reason, if we want to make a purely economic reasoning (leaving aside the ethical aspects), the care of the “Common Home” is not the duty of someone but the right of everyone: citizens, researchers, politicians, multinationals, etc.
Without going into the details of the Nature Restoration Law, of which you can find some references in this sheet, the question before us is not of a technical nature but linked to one of the great illnesses of our time: finance.
Today, despite various course corrections, such as the inclusion of ESG factors in financial dynamics, finance is one of the factors with the greatest impact on natural resource management and planning systems.
It is certain, however, that, at present, finance (and the resulting policies) are far from sustainable.
In fact, “sustainable finance” means finance that takes into consideration environmental, social and corporate governance factors, the so-called ESG factors, in the investment decision-making process, directing capital towards longer-term sustainable activities and projects. Sustainable finance is therefore the application of the concept of sustainable development to financial activity.
It is a finance that, however, suffers the encrustations of a liberal world that is struggling to die to make room for new systems, ways, indices, parameters of evaluating finance and its profitability.
In fact the solution, at least from a theoretical point of view, already exists and this is called Bioeconomy.
The bioeconomy can be defined as an economy based on the sustainable use of renewable natural resources and their transformation into final or intermediate goods and services (European Commission, 2012b). Therefore, the bioeconomy includes not only traditional sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry, but also more modern economic sectors such as biotechnology and bioenergy. Overall, in 2009 the bioeconomy in Europe had an added value of over 1,000 billion euros, a turnover of over 2,000 billion euros and approximately 21.5 million employed (Clever Consult, 2010). The prospects for further growth are even more promising: according to an OECD study (OECD, 2009) it is estimated that in 2030 in developed countries biotechnology will represent 35% of chemical and industrial products, 80% of pharmaceutical products and for diagnostics and 50% of agricultural products.
However, within the Bioeconomy, there is an increasing risk of the so-called “greenwashing”, i.e. those forms of communication by economic or political actors which do not correspond to the truth or which, in any case, represent a façade ecologism, much that the EU, starting from May 2023, is undertaking a series of initiatives, in order to regulate the issues, to avoid those misleading ways of communicating which represent real scams, very dangerous not only for citizens but also for the entire global ecosystem.
In short, we must promote a bioeconomy free from greenwashing and, to do this, finance and politics must follow the rules of nature.
A track less known than it seems, also because we train young people who live in large urban centers where nature, with its teachings, does not enter.
Currently, 54% of the world’s population (4 billion people) lives in urban areas, which makes us understand that if we want to do eco-sustainable politics and finance we must get our young people “back in touch” with Nature and its teachings.
Beyond the great interests of finance and politics, a “natural conscience” is missing.
There is little time to 2050 and, above all, to 2030 but above all there are few people who live from nature and Nature cannot be studied in books.
Perhaps the time has come to activate concrete programs in which the European Union and the competent Ministries take an interest in the problem with a decisive change of direction: bringing young people into nature, through “immersion and contact” teaching.
In Italy, articles 9 and 41 of the Constitution started this process, now the Government must understand its scope. Posterity will judge.