Could a lack of respect for mother nature cause the next pandemic?
The reasons why we were one of the first companies to support The Prince of Wales’s Terra Carta pledge on biodiversity.
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The destruction of other species’ natural habitats could see the next COVID-like infectious disease span the globe.
This is one of the reasons why we signed the Terra Carta – HRH The Prince of Wales’s biodiversity plan to harness “the irreplaceable power of nature”.
Wildlife evicted from its home will move closer to humans, making it much more likely for a virus to switch from animal to person.
Natural resource expert Sonya Likhtman, from our responsible investing partner EOS at Federated Hermes, says, “Examining our approach to the natural environment is likely to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases.
“While COVID-19 detracted from the biodiversity agenda in some ways, it brought our troubling relationship with other species to the fore.”
Launched in January, the Terra Carta aims to give fundamental rights and values to nature and create a more sustainable future.
“We simply cannot maintain this course indefinitely.”
HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES
MORE THAN HALF OF GLOBAL GDP IS AT STAKE
While the possibility of a pandemic is one of the more pertinent reasons for our support, our belief in Prince Charles’s pledge is much more fundamental and long term.
We signed up to it because we believe the way we deal with nature matters enormously to businesses and the economy.
Research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year found that more than half the world’s GDP – around $44 trillion – depends on nature. Construction, agriculture and food and drink are among the sectors relying on it the most.
But despite this, the WEF says humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants in the world. The organisation says the figures show the need for “a radical reset of humanity’s relationship with nature”.
Prince Charles agrees, saying in his introduction to the charter that “we simply cannot maintain this course indefinitely”.
He adds, “To build a productive and sustainable future, it is critical that we accelerate and mainstream sustainability into every aspect of our economy.
“As we strive to imagine the next 800 years of human progress, the fundamental rights and value of nature must represent a step-change in our ‘future of industry’ and ‘future of economy’ approach.”
WHAT IS THE TERRA CARTA?
Deriving its name from the historic Magna Carta, which inspired a belief in the fundamental rights and liberties of people over 800 years ago, the Terra Carta aims to ensure those same principles are applied to nature.
It is a roadmap for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future, bringing together the power of nature and the innovation of the private sector.
It was launched in January alongside the Natural Capital Investors Alliance, which aims to put $10 billion towards natural capital by 2022.
HoW WE'RE HELPING
As an investment house, we’re already embedding environmental concerns into every decision we make about which companies and funds to invest in on our clients’ behalf.
We have also excluded a number of coal-based, climate-harming activities from our client portfolios and funds and set clear carbon reduction targets.
But as Leslie Gent, Head of Responsible Investing at Coutts, explains, our support goes much further.
“Working with EOS, we regularly use our power and influence as shareholders to encourage more sustainable behaviour at the companies we invest in,” she says. “This includes engaging with them on eliminating deforestation, sustainable water use, and other important biodiversity issues.
“Nature has the power to ensure a prosperous future for the world, not only by nurturing our environment, but our economy too. Seeing it as something we should work with, not against, is crucial to creating a sustainable future for the generations that follow us.”
As supporters of the Terra Carta, we have also committed to:
- encourage active collaboration among investors and asset managers to mobilise the capital required to make our economy more sustainable
- collaborate, share knowledge and ideas to propel the world towards sustainability faster – through public, private and philanthropic collaboration
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