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The world's 20 richest countries must more than double their annual spending on protecting and restoring nature to $285 billion by 2050, the United Nations and donors have said, calling for increased private and foreign investment as well.

In the first joint report on financing nature in the G20 countries, they calculated that spending, including large emerging economies, was $120 billion in 2020.

Co-author Ivo Mulder, who heads climate finance at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said the report's focus on the natural resource finance gap in the G20 could help rich countries that have shown political leadership on the issue in recent months, including at the COP26 climate summit.

"The amount of money being invested in nature-based solutions is not nearly enough," Mulder told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The report looks at how rich countries can better manage the planet's climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises, for example by promoting sustainable agriculture and supply chains or building green spaces in cities to combat rising temperatures.

Last year, a UN report said that global funding for nature conservation needed to triple this decade to about $350 billion a year by 2030 and increase to more than $536 billion by 2050.

The spending gap was larger and harder to close outside the G20 group of countries, helped by the fact that only 2% of the G20's $120 billion investment in 2020 went to foreign aid, the new study says.

G20 funding accounts for 92% of all global investment in nature, the report says, with the vast majority of that public money — 87%, or $105 billion — going to programs within their own borders.

Private sector finance also remains small at 11% of the G20 total, or $14 billion a year, even though it contributes about 60% of gross domestic product in most G20 countries.

The authors of the report urged the G20 to seize opportunities to increase their international investment in things like restoring degraded lands and ecosystems, which can often be cheaper and more efficient than similar nature-related projects in a country.

The report also notes that in 2020, the top 50 economies spent over $14.6 trillion recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, of which only $368 billion, or 2%, was considered green.

“The climate and natural crises are two sides of the same coin,” said Justin Adams, director of environmental solutions at the World Economic Forum, co-author of the report. “We cannot make a difference unless we change our economic models and market systems to take full account of the value of nature,” he said.

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