Building Back Better Together: Investing in nature-based solutions to build resilience to ocean risk

Paris Peace Forum
4 min readNov 10, 2020

By José María Figueres (Board Chair, Ocean Unite) and Denis Duverne (Chairman, AXA Group and Chairman, Insurance Development Forum)

In a year in which the Covid pandemic has shown all of us the interconnectedness of our world and how important it is to invest in nature, the Ocean is often forgotten as a critical investible solution to both mitigate risk and build resilience to change. Last year’s IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate underscored how human activity is now changing the Ocean faster than at any time in the past 65 million years. Ocean heating from CO2 emissions results in a rise in sea levels, intensifying storms and damage to marine ecosystems which provide essential services from resilience to food security and climate regulation.

Ocean change poses threats to the lives and livelihoods of billions of people, most of them in the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the Global South and in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with women and girls especially hard hit. It also results in significant costs. According to a research paper published in Nature Climate Change, by 2050 the global community will face annual costs of over $1 trillion to coastal urban areas as a result of the combined effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather events on our coastlines. Insurers alone have paid out over US$300billion for coastal storm damage in the past decade — which is far less than the significant and constantly rising costs to governments and taxpayers.

Yet our global response has not matched the scale and complexity of the challenge. Standard investment models don’t take account of climate change or other risks — neither do many government plans — and there is no global governance mechanism to address this. If there were, the UN estimates that almost US$400 billion could be saved in the next 15 years from investments into disaster risk management.

We need to better understand ocean-related risks and shift our global response to anticipating and adapting to hazards, rather than addressing them post-disaster. And investing in nature-based solutions plays a key role in that.

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