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COVID-19. Wow. Where do you start?

Let’s start with nature. Is our destruction of nature responsible for COVID-19?

COVID-19 highlights the link between environmental change and human health outcomes. It reveals that exploiting nature e.g. wildlife trafficking can actually be the cause of a pandemic.

A healthy society requires a healthy planet. Nature and the goods and services it provides to people are the foundation of society, the global economy and the overall human experience.

Under the three nested dependencies model of sustainability society is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment and the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of society.

Without food, clean water, fresh air, fertile soil, and other natural resources, we’re cooked.

Although the world’s 7.6 billion people represent only 0.01% of all living things by weight, humanity has already caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants.

The crisis engulfing nature matters to business. The generation of $US44 trillion of economic value – more than half the world’s total GDP – is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services.

So, what are we going to do to sustain the ‘parent company’ for society and the economy?

Some people think COVID-19 is a once in a generation chance to remake the world. Others talk about the lessons from our response to COVID-19 that we can apply to tackling climate change.

At Currie, when we look at the future, we see the possible. It’s not too late. Nature can still become central to the world’s thinking. And there’s no better time to start than today: Earth Day 2020.

One way to start is by thinking of humanity and nature as one. Four countries – Bangladesh, New Zealand, India and Ecuador – have gone a step further and given nature the same rights as humans.

Business can start by measuring its impacts on nature. Investors can reflect natural risks in the price of capital. Governments can use policy and regulation to support better outcomes for the environment. The global economy can operate within the nine natural boundaries set by the planet.

Time and time again humanity has risen to a challenge. The green revolution. The ozone layer. The halving of poverty. If the past is any guide, we can find a way to save nature (and ourselves), too.

About Mark Paterson

Mark’s first job was milking cows. An award-winning career in journalism followed. These days when he's not trying to save coral reefs in Indonesia, dreaming about playing tennis on the Masters circuit or raising three kids in a blended family he thrives on consulting work that connects profit with people and planet. The son of corgi breeders, Mark would like to change the world for the better. Read more posts by Mark.

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