How ecopreneurship for 'Ecosystem Restoration’ can be measured

The need to accelerate public and private investment in nature is a given. Let’s talk about the checks and balances to ensure its success.
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There is no denying that we are living through a natural crisis that requires urgent action. At a time like this, the world needs to get behind the idea of ‘Ecopreneurship’ or ‘Sustainopreneurship’ — finding nature-based solutions through business practices.

As economies recover with the support of vaccination drives, the promises and demands about building a greener world post-pandemic appear to be drifting further away. 

The age of ecopreneurs

This World Environment Day has been declared the decade of #GenerationRestoration — with everyone being encouraged to become ecopreneurs.

Adding to that, the health and nature crisis is offering us an opportunity to build back better and greener. UN report State of Finance for Nature 2021 states that investing just 0.1 percent of global GDP every year in nature till 2050 could prevent the degradation of vital ecosystem services. 

But for many, this is a hard reset. It requires shifting away from carbon-emitting activities across the value chain. It means that we need to look towards greener opportunities and solutions.

Ecopreneurship — an important milestone to achieve our climate goals — provides innumerable benefits. More than anything, entrepreneurial spirit represents new ideas and approaches to age-old problems. It gives individuals an opportunity to take a fresh look at ancient techniques and blend them with science and technology. 

For investments in nature to be profitable models, businesses will need to scale. This cannot happen unless products and services are tech-enabled.

Green recovery requires an entrepreneurial spirit, but are we creating a conducive environment for them?

To make pledges to protect and restore our ecosystems, we shouldn’t forget to learn lessons from our past. Let’s be honest, ecopreneurship is not a bed of roses.

I believe that instead of setting broad targets, a more dispersed approach to dealing with the nature crisis would lead to better results — smaller milestones that are achievable.

Today, governments and larger corporations that announced 10 and 20-year plans are finding it difficult to meet their climate targets.

Nature is giving opportunities and throwing challenges our way. Not many could’ve imagined the economic and societal devastation that a zoonotic disease like COVID-19 would cause. The lesson is that we have to think agile. We need to talk about our failures in meeting targets as much as our plans. 

This is not possible without measuring our impact on nature

For instance, the world has turned its attention to building the Great Sahel. In the past, a major setback to the project was the lack of involvement of private sector investment to turn the region nature-positive.

The Great Green Wall initiative has huge solar power potential, among other opportunities. But since its launch in 2007, it’s achieved only 20 percent of its 100 million hectare goal.

However, with a huge push from the UN, the acceleration of climate action has increased and is likely to go further into the next decade. With tech and science at their heart, agroforestry and regeneration approaches are used by innovative ecopreneurs in the region. Among them, Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is touted as a cost-effective and simple method. 

My concern is about the measurability of green investments.

Forest scientists Pedro Brancalion of the University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, and Karen Holl of the University of California, Santa Cruz, have shown their reluctance on the success of agroforestry projects.

They said, “Tree planting is often viewed as the simple act of digging a hole. But this short-term naïve view has resulted in large quantities of money spent on efforts that have failed almost entirely.” 

Tabi Joda, ecopreneur and Ambassador of the Great Green Wall initiative, also echoes this sentiment, “I have travelled the breadth of Africa and seen it everywhere. Trees are planted, but they are not taken care of, and so they never grow.” 

CSR drives for planting trees can quickly turn into setbacks for the environment when their viability isn’t accounted for. We need to plan for the long-term. 

This isn’t to say that agroforestry initiatives do not give rich dividends. There is immense scope for ecopreneurship to aid and deepen climate mitigation engagement in the world. 

But in all the discussions about climate action with investments in nature, let’s not forget about the rigour and processes necessary to measure its impact in the world. 

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)