The day before the UK Prime Minister makes a speech to the UN on biodiversity, the British based nature charity RSPB today launched a major new Green Recovery Plan for nature recovery. 

The charity says that during lockdown nature has provided “support and solace” for many people. The Covid pandemic, it says, has focused minds on the way nature benefits the health, wellbeing of all parts of society. But it says much of this under threat as we have witnessed a ‘lost decade’ brought about through missed targets and underfunding.

The new report outlines urgent measures that RSPB says the government must implement  to “revive our world for people and nature”.  These sit under four main themes:

Set Legally binding targets
Set legally binding targets to restore populations of wild species to a 1970s baseline and to protect 30% of land and seas for nature by 2030, including binding interim targets to ensure that action is not delayed.

Ensure good governance in the form of an independent and well-resourced Office for Environmental Protection to provide the necessary accountability to meet the targets. 

Invest in nature
Properly invest in a green recovery, with a Comprehensive Spending Review that delivers a total of £2.9bn annually on environmental land management, including £615 million each year on restoration and creation of priority habitats, and £426m annually on a new National Nature Service employment and training schemes.

Reform agriculture, land management, freshwater and fisheries policies
Ensure a new world-leading agricultural policy and funding package including the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) to support a vibrant, resilient farming sector. Implement a comprehensive food strategy which drives further reductions in food waste and facilitates the uptake of sustainable and healthy diets. Reduce the reliance on agro-chemicals and significantly reduce the quantity and toxicity of pesticides used in agriculture.

Tackle the dual nature and climate crises
Recognise the UK’s impact on natural capital overseas within the 25 Year Environment Plan, and work with business to design an appropriate policy framework to manage such impacts. By the end of 2020, establish an ambitious and time bound, legally binding target to halve the UK’s overall environmental impacts overseas by 2030. Secure a mandatory due diligence obligation on businesses and financial institutions.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s CEO said:  “Over the past six months we have all experienced the importance of nature and the positive impact it has on our health and wellbeing.  Not only does the natural world make us feel better mentally and physically, our ecosystems also provide clean air and water, protect us against extreme weather events, climate change and health epidemics, and provide us with a climate-safe, sustainable, and resilient planet in which people can thrive. The benefits are too many to count.

“We may be in a nature and climate crisis with all this is under threat, but it’s not too late to revive our world if we work together.  In fact it’s key to long-term economic resilience and has to be part of a green recovery.  Now is the time to invest in nature, set targets and implement policies that will ensure we have sustainable, nature-rich, healthy communities and a green, resilient economy for generations to come.  There’s never been a greater need or a greater opportunity.”