Investing in ‘natural capital’ can drive the economy – Charles

The Prince of Wales has said investment in “natural capital” should be the “engine of our economy” ahead of the launch of his ambitious Earth Charter.

At a global environmental summit, Charles will urge industry and business leaders to sign up to his 10-year project that puts “nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation” and invest 10 billion dollars (£7.3 billion) in “natural capital”.

Called Terra Carta, or Earth Charter, the initiative has parallels with the Magna Carta – the touchstone for human rights and modern democracy – and aims to lay out a “recovery plan” towards sustainability that gives fundamental rights and value to nature.

Speaking via video link ahead of the launch, the prince told delegates at the One Planet Summit, being staged in Paris: “The interdependence between human health and planetary health has never been more clear.

“For so many of the problems we face, nature, with the benefit of billions of years of evolution, has already provided us with the solutions.

“As we urgently seek to rescue the situation, we must now look to invest in natural capital as the engine of our economy.”

He went on to say: “With growing interest in natural capital as an investment theme, the financial sector has come to see that natural capital can play a decisive role in addressing climate change, as well as supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The prince spoke during an investment forum for the Great Green Wall – an Africa-led initiative to combat desertification by creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes across the entire width of north Africa.

Charles, who co-hosted the forum, said about the African project: “The initiative offers a precious opportunity to restore land and biodiversity, while also transforming lives and livelihoods through education, employment and enterprise creation. It can also offer a model for the vital role of sustainable value chains and carbon markets.”

France’s President Emmanuel Macron attended the session and is co-hosting the summit, with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and president of the World Bank Group David Malpass, convened under the theme “Let’s act together for nature!”.

In the afternoon, Charles will formally launch his Terra Carta in a speech to heads of state and government, leaders of international organisations, financial institutions, companies and NGOs.

Speaking virtually, the prince will say: “Today, I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world… to give their support to this Terra Carta – to bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people and planet over the coming decade.

“I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilise the innovation, scale and resources that are required to transform our global economy.”

Charles’ Sustainable Markets Initiative – launched last year to help accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable future – created the charter and a Natural Capital Investment Alliance.

The alliance aims to encourage 10 billion dollars worth of commitments from founding Terra Carta supporters by 2022, which will be invested in companies and projects providing solutions to preserve and restore natural capital – renewable and non-renewable resources such as clean air and water and fertile soils.

Charles will launch his Terra Carta later. Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire
Charles will launch his Terra Carta later. Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

Initiatives could include reforestation or landscape restoration, as a means to reduce emissions, restore biodiversity, and boost sustainable economic growth and job creation.

Organisations supporting the project include Bank of America, AstraZeneca, HSBC, Heathrow Airport and BP.

The prince will go on to say: “The Terra Carta offers the basis of a recovery plan that puts nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation – one that will harness the precious, irreplaceable power of nature combined with the transformative innovation and resources of the private sector.”

Charles will highlight how nations have mobilised to combat coronavirus as an example of what can be achieved if there is a will.

The charter features almost 100 recommendations for the private sector that have been drawn from the business world following months of discussions, convened by the prince, with leaders from industry, governments, the investor community and philanthropy.

Charles’ project is the culmination of 50 years of campaigning in support of the environment and comes at a pivotal moment, with the pandemic forcing governments and the private and public sectors to re-examine their practices and relationship with the planet.