Climate change has made headline news and the top of the political agenda over the past years and is, rightly so, at the foreground of the most pressing issues facing society today. Another just as, if not more, pressing issue, biodiversity, is also gaining momentum.
Biodiversity is the network of animals and plants that produces oxygen, regulates water, retains soil and provides flood protection – amongst other vital services of considerable value and on which life depends. It also has social, cultural and spiritual significance. These natural resources and associated ‘eco-systemic’ services are not infinite, and their loss can hugely affect economic and social stability, which is why current indicators are concerning. Almost one third of birds in North America have disappeared since the 1970’s1, a study in Germany’s insect population points to a decline of 76% in the biomass of flying insects over the past 25 years2, Bluefish Tuna stocks are down to 3% of their historic population3. And, accordingly to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 27 soccer fields worth of forest are lost every minute – an estimated 18 million acres per year.
The acknowledgement of the need to act in the area of biodiversity loss has led AXA, as a responsible private sector player and a leading insurer, to publish a study, with the WWF4, that calls for the implementation of a Task Force on Nature Impact disclosures to analyze the impact of firms’ activities on biodiversity, determine favorable actions for its protection and restoration and provide a measurement tool for investment portfolio effects. This has resulted in a G7 charter on intensified efforts to respond to the biodiversity loss challenge, and efforts are ongoing to provide additional commitments and goals.
To further explicit the importance of maintaining healthy natural ecosystems and find ways to mitigate the challenge of their loss, the AXA Research Fund, AXA’s scientific philanthropy initiative, has supported over 60 projects that address the environmental, societal and economic effects of biodiversity loss. This Research Guide aims to highlight the critical nature of biodiversity and the interdependencies between nature, climate change, the economy and security by sharing the insights from AXA Research Fund supported scientists and biodiversity and climate change experts. It also sheds light on some of the steps AXA has engaged in as a private sector player, as a first effort to rise to the challenge of possibly one of the biggest issues facing us yet.
1 K. Rosenberg et al. “Decline of the North American avifauna,” Science, 2019.
2 Hallmann et al, PLOS, 2017.
3 International Scientific Committee for Tuna, 2018.
4 WWF France, AXA, Into the Wild: Integrating nature into investment strategies, 5-6 May 2019.
Marie Bogataj Head of the AXA Research Fund and Group Foresight