Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap

Major new report from the Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability makes a compelling economic case for valuing nature and identifies nine key mechanisms to close the biodiversity financing gap

CHICAGO—The Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability today revealed the findings of the Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap report. This major new report makes the economic case for valuing nature and calculates the full scale of the gap between what is needed to sustainably manage biodiversity and maintain the integrity of Earth’s ecosystems, compared with what is currently invested in conserving nature.

The report reveals that the biodiversity financing gap—estimated at between $598 billion to $824 billion per year over the next ten years—is significant but not insurmountable and can be bridged by implementing a set of nine financial and policy mechanisms.

The study notes that human activities are causing one of the most dramatic extinction crises in planetary history, resulting not only in damage to natural ecosystems but presenting enormous risks to human prosperity and well-being. Current rates of loss of biological diversity are being driven in large part by humanity’s tendency to favor short-term economic gains over our collective long-term social, economic, and environmental security and sustainability.

Beyond the warnings of the systemic impacts of global biodiversity loss on the economy, the recommendations in the report also present solutions that prescribe how to transform current economic models and market systems though a gathering of political will, broad public support, and the redirection of capital away from economic activities that devastate biodiversity and into investments that will incentivize the conservation and restoration of nature. Notably, by tackling harmful subsidies and implementing innovative financing mechanisms and economic policies, governments can play a pivotal role in reducing destructive practices and catalyzing additional financing from the private sector.

“Biodiversity loss presents profound risks to human prosperity and well-being. As with any serious risk we face, the rational response is to hedge against this possibility. In the case of biodiversity loss, this means committing to a comprehensive, worldwide effort to appropriately value, protect, and restore nature,” says Henry M. Paulson, Jr., former US Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the Paulson Institute.

Commenting further on the report’s findings, The Nature Conservancy’s CEO Jennifer Morris says,

“Amid a global pandemic and world economic strife, nature is currently taking a back seat. Continued global biodiversity loss will leave our planet, people, and economies in peril. The time has come to fundamentally and urgently rethink our relationship with nature. This milestone study is a blueprint for decision-makers on how to close the financing gap for nature—and makes it clear that we can, and must, transform our economic models and market systems to take nature’s full value into account.”

“The Financing Nature report paints a sobering picture of how much new capital must be directed to biodiversity protection. It also underlines that the challenge can be met through smart policies and better management of our impacts on nature. While the public sector is crucial, the analysis and recommendations in Financing Nature highlight that there is a realistic pathway for the business and finance sector to go from being part of the problem, to being a critical part of the solution to biodiversity loss,” according to John Tobin, Professor of Practice of Corporate Sustainability at Cornell University and an authority on biodiversity finance.

As governments race to heal their economies from the impacts of COVID-19, the value and preservation of global ecosystems must remain front and center in sustainable recovery plans. The timing of this landmark report is designed to inform, educate, and serve the national delegations and other international negotiators currently involved in the development of the next set of 10-year global biodiversity targets, expected to be brokered at next year’s UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 in Kunming, China. Learn more and read the full report.

The Paulson Institute       |        The Nature Conservancy       |       Cornell Atkinson

Short Summary


About the Paulson Institute
The Paulson Institute is a non-partisan, independent “think and do tank” dedicated to fostering a US-China relationship that serves to maintain global order in a rapidly evolving world. Our focus on US-China is dictated by the reality that it is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world. We often operate at the intersection of economics, financial markets, environmental protection, and policy advocacy, in part by promoting balanced and sustainable economic growth. Founded in 2011 by former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the Institute is based in Chicago with offices in Washington and Beijing. Follow us on Twitter @PaulsonInst.

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @nature_org. 

About the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability
Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability is the hub of collaborative sustainability research at Cornell University, forging vital connections among researchers, students, staff, and external partners. We build new and unexpected connections that catalyze extraordinary change. We know that bold ideas and powerful new models will ensure that people and the planet not only survive, but thrive. With Cornell University’s deep and broad knowledge base as our foundation, we bring together passionate experts and innovators, theorists and practitioners, business leaders and philanthropists to deliver large-scale, long-term sustainability solutions. Together, we’re building a resilient tomorrow. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @AtkinsonCenter.

Media Contacts:
Kristin Gomez, Communications Director, The Paulson Institute
Ciaran Clayton, Global Media Relations, The Nature Conservancy
Sara Stevenson, Communications Manager, Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability