We need a new asset class of healthy soils and pollinators

The writer, a former US Treasury secretary, chairs the Paulson Institute

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fundamental failure in our collective ability to deal with predictable global crises. It should have been a wake-up call and yet we are in danger of sleepwalking into another disaster — this one caused by staggering biodiversity loss.

As governments rebuild and invest in the wake of this crisis, policymakers must learn to value nature, providing the right conditions and incentives to drive change. One important step would be to create a new asset class comprised of things such as productive soils, crop pollination and watersheds. This might sound far-fetched — especially coming from a former US Treasury secretary — but valuing nature as we do traditional goods and services will create incentives to avoid biodiversity destruction, manage climate change and preserve lives and livelihoods. Harnessing the power of markets can protect our environments and prevent its rapid destruction.

With tropical forests in retreat and the extinction of species thought to be about 1,000 times the natural rate, nature’s ability to provide the goods and services on which we depend is being undermined, presenting enormous risks to prosperity. Take, for example, the “service” provided…

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