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U.K. Faces $132 Billion Funding Gap for Biodiversity Restoration

Britain will require vast amounts of private funding to live up to its pledge on biodiversity.

Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

The U.K. will need private investors to cough up significant sums of money if the nation is to preserve its habitats and biodiversity, according to a new study.

The government-backed Green Finance Institute estimates that the U.K. currently lacks as much as 97 billion pounds ($132 billion) in funding to live up to its commitments, according to a report on Tuesday. If the U.K. is “to meet its net zero and nature-positive ambitions,” it will need private money to supplement government spending, it said. 

The U.K., which is hosting next month’s COP26 climate summit, has made a wide array of commitments to preserve and protect nature, spanning the restoration of degraded peatlands and seafloor habitats, to protecting endangered species and achieving a net gain in biodiversity. Globally, the sense of alarm around the loss of biodiversity is growing more urgent. Never before have so many species been threatened with extinction, as the degradation of their habitats compounds the fallout from climate change. 

“The data is conclusive that public investment - even if funding commitments increase - will not be enough to fund the U.K.’s nature recovery ambitions,’’ said Green Finance Institute CEO Rhian-Mari Thomas. “Private investment is therefore urgently required.’’

The decline of the natural world has yet to attract the same level of interest from Wall Street C-suites as climate change. But a number of financial firms, including Amundi SA and HSBC Global Asset Management, have started to include biodiversity in their environmental goals. And last month, executives from major asset managers including BlackRock Inc. and UBS Group AG were appointed to the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures to help develop a framework for measuring the impact that financial institutions and corporations are having on the natural world.

The financial risks are clear. The World Economic Forum estimates that more than half of global gross domestic product is moderately or highly dependent on nature.