9 June 2021, 10:00:00

Fund Nature, Fund the Future
EU Recovery Plans miss the triple win opportunity for nature, climate & the economy

This report from Vivid Economics provides quantitative analysis of ten EU National Resilience and Recovery Plans (NRRPs) and finds that they miss a major opportunity to invest in a nature-positive recovery. The NRRPs aim to mitigate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and build a more sustainable and cohesive Europe-wide economy. While the NRRPs largely deliver on the climate agenda, they do not form a coherent response to the multiple crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and the economic ramifications of COVID-19. They are heavily lopsided: climate-positive investments outweigh nature-positive investments by a factor of 6, while nature-negative investments outweigh climate-negative investments by a factor of 9. Furthermore, the EU has no adequate mechanism to assess their impact upon nature. Our analysis shows that only 8% of spending enhances nature, which misses a major opportunity to invest in a nature-positive recovery, while 10% of spending harms nature, showing an outsized neglect of nature considerations, while no sufficient conditions ensure that the rest of the spending is nature-positive.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) outperform in terms of jobs, economic stimulus, and emission reductions, yet comprise only 1% of the NRRPs analysed. NBS provide habitats, support biodiversity, build natural resilience and bring health benefits. They also deliver outsized returns in terms of job creation, gross value-added to the economy, and carbon sequestration. This demonstrates NBS are competitive stimulus measures, even before accounting for their support to nature. With these competitive potential benefits and millions of hectares of land available for nature-based solutions, the NRRPs miss an opportunity to score a triple win for climate, nature and the economy. To improve the impact of public finance in the future, a rigorous appraisal of its impact upon both nature and climate must be carried out using a robust and consistent framework that brings transparency to spending decisions and helps governments make the most of public spending. This will help to ensure that public finance not only protects but also enhances nature, biodiversity and the climate, and in doing so, actively builds the long-term health, sustainability and resilience of society.