Report “Nature’s Return” on integrating economic and environmental governance

04 May 2020


The cost of the COVID-19 crisis shines a light on the real value of anticipation in policymaking. Without doubt, even this tsunami will be dwarfed by the consequences of the ongoing collapse of nature if we keep ignoring science. It is time to end business as usual and begin to deeply integrate environmental objectives in our economic governance.

The destruction of our ecosystems may have far worse social and economic consequences than the current coronavirus pandemic; they are the invisible infrastructure to much of the EU’s employment and are in rapid decline.

EU leaders have an opportunity to protect citizens by enforcing environmental regulation, decreasing harmful subsidies and increasing private and public funding for nature before it is too late.

In our new report, “Nature’s Return” (88 pages), we argue that the EU can do this by integrating environmental goals into its economic governance through the EU Green Deal.

We also look at how private finance can be made to help businesses to transform their interactions with nature, via better information and incentives. Our analysis highlights the inherent limits to the involvement of private finance, which has invested little in nature projects so far, and suggests ways to make funders pay more attention to nature projects within those limits.

We then look at ways to align and increase public funding, including through the EU Semester, and develop a number of arguments that are directly relevant to the debate on shaping the Recovery Package that the EU is tabling in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The impact on business transformation could be even greater if Recovery Package measures for businesses affected by the coronavirus slowdown are made conditional on adopting transition plans to reduce their impacts on climate and nature.

The main recommendations in “Nature’s Return” are:

  1. Fully integrate and prioritise environmental objectives, including biodiversity, in the EU Semester.
  2. Review the EU’s system for tracking the impact of public budgets on nature and biodiversity.
  3. Mandate the Sustainable Finance Platform to develop a harmonised system of metrics and methodologies to assess the impacts, risks, and dependencies of economic and financial activities on biodiversity and nature.
  4. Assess the effectiveness and suitability of existing and new economic instruments against their environmental objectives

To learn more about our findings and recommendations, join us for a webinar on Monday 4 May 2020 at 3pm CEST.
A few days after the event, we will upload the video of the webinar presentation and provide a link here.