Nature works for us - but are we working against it?

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The increasing loss of biodiversity endangers ecosystems on which we all depend.  

Nature provides innumerable resources and services that are essential for human life and survival, ranging from food stuffs, a roof over our heads to active ingredients in medicine. But nature is being increasingly pushed back, natural habitats are being lost, more and more species of animals and plants are dying out. 

In 2018 AXA decided to investigate how the loss of biodiversity is impacting society, and as one of the world’s largest insurance companies and asset managers, what it can do worldwide to counter the trend. 

Extensive biodiversity as means of livelihood

According to the WWF’s Living Planet Index, biodiversity has fallen by almost 70 percent in the last fifty years. Renowned scientists even talk about a sixth mass extinction, the fifth one being the demise of the dinosaurs.

In scientific terms, there is no doubt that we all depend on extensive ecosystems to flourish as a society and to be able to survive. 

For instance, artificial pollination for food would mean around 153 billion euros per year in work and technology costs. In an intact natural environment, bees and other insects provide this free service from nature to us humans. 

Climate change is accelerating the extinction of species

According to the World Biodiversity Council (IPBES), there are a number of reasons for the increasing loss of diversity, such as overfishing, logging and soil pollution, and the introduction of invasive species and increasing urbanization.

But one of the most significant reasons for the loss of biodiversity is climate change. Prolonged dry periods and droughts, acidification of the oceans and serious natural disasters have a profoundly negative impact on our planet's biodiversity.

This is particularly serious because healthy nature would help enormously in the fight against climate change. Lush forests and cool oceans absorb many CO2 emissions, so the lack of protection from these natural ecosystems puts all of our means of livelihood on the line, if not at risk, in the long run.  

“For us, protecting biodiversity is a natural extension of our commitment to fighting climate change. Together with partners, we want to convince as many people and companies as possible about the need for nature and climate protection, and reverse the trend of the increasing loss of biodiversity in this decade. Nature works for all of us. Our job is to protect it”, says Franka Bosman, Sustainability Manager at AXA Switzerland. 

Healthy nature helps everyone, including the economy

AXA is reducing its own use of resources and CO2 footprint year after year. As a financial services provider, however, it produces relatively little CO2 compared to other companies, so its impact on reducing business-related CO2 emissions is limited. As one of the largest investors in the world, AXA can do a great deal more by consistently implementing sustainability criteria as part of its investment strategy and encouraging other companies to do the same. 

“The loss of biodiversity threatens ecosystem services on which companies also depend. This therefore affects investors too, as they rely on a functioning economy. If entrepreneurs and investors can understand and properly categorize these potential risks, they will also be able to recognize opportunities and therefore understand and implement solutions that promote climate protection and biodiversity rather than engage in unsustainable business practices”, says Daniel Gussmann, Chief Investment Officer of AXA Switzerland. 

Find out in one of the next blog articles about what AXA is doing to protect biodiversity. 

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