Ecosystems and biodiversity are, to a greater or lesser extent, the support of all economic activities. Specifically, it is estimated that 40% of world GDP depends directly on biodiversity and that the remaining 60% would be impossible without a preserved nature, which could provide the necessary ecosystem services. As a consequence, its degradation negatively affects the economy, as evidenced by the current situation of drought. On the contrary, its protection and restoration is a source of wealth and job creation.
The report Biodiversity, economy and employment in Spain. Analysis and future perspectives, carried out by a research team at the request of various environmental entities, figures at one million new jobs that could be generated in Spain thanks to an economy that is more respectful of biodiversity. In some sectors, employment could increase significantly, according to the study prepared by Friends of the Earth, Ecologists in Action, SEO BirdLife, WWF and the Biodiversia, Fractal, Garúa and Transitando cooperatives.
This is the case of fire prevention and extinction, with between 69,000 and 172,000 new jobs, or the agricultural sector with an agroecological profile, with an expansion of between 137,000 and 740,000 jobs. Likewise, it would be necessary to reinforce the control, regulation and environmental training mechanisms, which could generate between 7,500 and 133,700 new jobs.
40% of world GDP depends on biodiversity and the remaining 60% would be unviable without a conserved nature
“Quantifying how much employment would be generated is closely linked to how policies are implemented to make the transition to an economy that is more respectful of biodiversity,” warns Ana García, president of the economy and sustainability commission and member of the governing board of Col · Legi d’Economistes de Catalunya. García is clear about it: “It is necessary to act forcefully to stop the loss of biodiversity. More ambitious policies are needed”.
Joan Cabezas, executive director of Nactiva, a recently created business platform that aims to accelerate sustainable investments in the Mediterranean area, agrees with this. “We must take it more seriously, change our mentality and invest a lot more so that the transformation becomes a reality,” says Cabezas. The expert also warns that “territories that do not have their natural assets well preserved will not be able to borrow to invest and, therefore, will not be able to grow.” “We will all win if we make this collective effort”, adds the Nactiva manager.
A 2020 Swiss Re Institute report places Spain among the 20 countries with the highest percentage (23%) of biodiversity and ecosystem services in a fragile state, therefore vulnerable to possible ecological disturbances. Of particular concern is the overexploitation of groundwater, a problem derived mainly from intensive irrigated agriculture, but also from livestock farming and some extractive activities.
Another major threat is air pollution, from transportation and various extractive and industrial activities. And we must not forget the climate crisis, which is behind the current drought.
In their report, the environmental entities underline that almost all economic activities have caused the degradation of the landscape, sometimes irreversibly.
On the other hand, the authors of the study point out that the extraction of fossil fuels, minerals, metals and aggregates, the chemical and petrochemical industry, waste management, energy supply and transport are responsible for a huge amount of toxic products and by-products. that are released into water, soil or air.
Up to 60% fewer birds
A study published in the journal PNAS, with the participation of Creaf, ICO and CSIC and led by the University of Montpellier, has revealed that the extension of intensive monocultures is the main cause of the 25% drop in bird populations that Europe has suffered in the last 40 years . Among the species typical of agricultural land, the decline is close to 60%.