This perspective was first published by Mercer here.
We believe investors should be turning their attention to tackling global biodiversity loss. Global biodiversity loss is estimated to be 100 to 1,000 times higher than the (naturally occurring) background extinction rate, faster than at any other time in human history (or, indeed, in the last 66 million years).1 This loss is already affecting food security, livelihoods, health and quality of life worldwide, and in economic terms, more than half of the world’s GDP is at moderate to severe risk.2 This article aims to provide a high-level introduction to biodiversity for investors; we will continue our work in this space and further develop our thinking both as we research asset managers and meeting client demand.
Apart from an absolute moral obligation to conserve nature, recognized by secular ethicists3 and religious creeds alike, humanity’s prospects are indelibly tied to it. We know, for example, that human well-being is linked to green space,4 that the human body is entirely dependent on bacteria and other microbes (approximately half of the cells in our bodies are nonhuman)5 that the human body is entirely dependent on photosynthesizing species for oxygen, and that the human body relies almost exclusively on organic matter for nourishment. Moreover, not only are we dependent on natural foodstuffs, but these foodstuffs also rely on a wide array of species: pollinators, such as insects, and organisms in the soil, such as bacteria, earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi.
1 See Wikipedia Biodiversity Loss (11/5/21) at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity_loss.
2 Business for Nature Coalition, 2021, available at https://www.businessfornature.org/.
3 For further reading, see Taylor PW. “The Ethics of Respect for Nature,” Environmental Ethics, Volume 3, Issue 3 (1981), pp. 197–218.
4 Houlden V, Weich S, de Albuquerque JP, Jarvis S, Rees K. “The Relationship Between Greenspace and the Mental Wellbeing of Adults: A Systematic Review,” PLOS One, Volume 13, Issue 9 (2018).
5 Sender R, Fuchs S, Milo R. “Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body,” PLOS Biology , Volume 14, Issue 8 (2016).