Our opinion

Lévis, June 1 2020

Subject: The importance of natural capital for post COVID-19 green economic recovery and the prevention of future crises

In the past few months, we have experienced an unprecedented sanitary crisis. The decisive actions taken by the governments have managed to save many lives, as well as support both individuals and businesses during this difficult period.

However, crises far greater than this pandemic are unfolding before our eyes. The negative impact of COVID-19 on our lives has struck quickly. The economy is going to recover in the medium term. On the other hand, the climate and ecological crises will take on greater importance and their negative impacts, if not prevented, will last for decades and will impact not just a few areas or ecological niches, but the entire population of the planet.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that COVID-19 will cost us nine (9) trillion dollars over the next two (2) years. In comparison, in a recent study published in the Nature journal, scientists predict that the climate crisis could cost one hundred (100) times the current crisis, an average of twelve (12) trillion dollars per year over the next eighty (80) years if we do not meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change. Another study just released, prepared by an international team of archaeologists, ecologists, and climatologists, predicts that by 2070, more than three (3) billion humans currently living in places where extreme heat is already the norm will eventually find themselves in climatic conditions that will be a direct threat to human life.

In addition, many scientists clearly warn that deforestation, land degradation, and the loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat are increasing the occurrence of infectious diseases and the risk of pandemics spreading. We have been witnessing the emergence of diseases originating directly from wildlife since the early 2000s (e.g. Ebola, SARS, COVID-19). There are strong indications linking all of these crises to the deterioration of ecosystems and the resulting poverty.

Mother Nature is a vital ally in the fight against climate change. Nature regulates the climate, and solutions founded on nature, such as the protecting and restoring of wetlands, peatlands, and coastal ecosystems, or the sustainable management of marine areas, forests, prairies, and agricultural lands, are essential to the reduction of emissions and adaptation to climate change. Planting trees and deploying green infrastructures helps us grow our urban zones and limit the impacts of natural catastrophes. It is in this spirit that the European Union is committed to putting nature at the heart of its new biodiversity strategy.

How can we make a difference?

To emerge from the current crisis with our heads held high and with hope for a better world, we must see this situation not only as an opportunity for Canada and Quebec, but even more as a duty and a responsibility to reinvent our economic model while sustainably managing our environment. And to set an example for the rest of the world!

We are collectively responsible for our means and potential! The weight of knowledge!

The direction that government economic action will take in the coming months in relation to natural capital, including green infrastructures, will have to mobilize both the private sector and civil society in a complicity that will be essential to achieving this historic turning point. This complicity will have to involve the strengthening of nature and its resilience.

Adding our voice to the many others that are calling on governments to resolutely relaunch our climate and sustainable development commitments, we at Viridis Terra are convinced that it is essential to guide and better supervise future programs and investments in order to get our economy back on track, guided by the vision of ensuring a prosperous future for all.

We have to resolutely invest, as a society, in authentic innovation, which draws from universal knowledge, is shaped by our collective and individual experience, resonates with man-made communities and civilizations, as well as those offered to us by Mother nature herself. We have to fight for the healthy and sustainable management of our forest and agroforest ecosystems, which provide us with natural, eco-friendly resources with added commercial value. We have to encourage organizations with business models committed to climatic resilience through ecological integrity, food and economic security, improvement of land production, and quality of life of all those affected.

Support the shift towards a greener economy

In the past, public institutions have played a key role in the emergence of several economic sectors. For example, they have allowed the renewable energy sector to mature to the point where it is now able to be 100% privately financed. Our governments must, in these times, play the same catalytic role with natural capital, which provides innovative, forward-looking solutions to some of the greatest challenges and threats facing humanity: climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, unsustainable resource use, and water scarcity.

The State has a duty to support this shift towards a greener, more sustainable and more responsible post-COVID-19 economy with blended and targeted funding programs in this sector in order to contribute to its dynamism, pioneering, innovative character, and growth, as well as pave the way for the mobilization of private investment.

The economic relaunch will need to focus on massive investments in businesses committed to finding solutions based on a better management of nature and its natural resources . . . solutions founded in Mother Nature herself. This approach will allow us to better fight planetary challenges, with nature as our most trusted ally.

There are currently more than two billion hectares of degraded land on the planet, an area equivalent to more than two (2) times the surface of Canada. Land degradation and the desertification of life-supporting forest and agricultural areas is accelerating; the economic loss is currently estimated to be more than ten trillion US dollars per year, as these lands used to produce goods and services of commercial value cease or lower production as a result of degradation.

Natural capital, which is at the heart of the fight against the climate emergency, is now considered by the financial sector to be as essential as the shift to the renewable energy sector was twenty years ago. According to many experts, the restoration of natural capital could contribute up to 37% to the achievement of the Paris Accord targets. Deforestation, land degradation, and land-use change account for nearly 25% of global GHG emissions.

The importance of restoration and return into production of degraded lands

Other organizations, such as ours, with economically viable business models and innovative technological approaches to restore degraded lands should be created and encouraged. There are too few of them.

We need more organizations willing to commit, through integrated and innovative solutions, to the restoration and return into production of degraded lands. We need more people willing to fight for a better world for current and future generations, by collaborating with stakeholders focused on rebuilding nature and the relationship humankind has with it.

Developing a green economy based on viable development models and sustainable economic activities is vital. We want to transform what today appears to be an inexorable and unattainable cost into a profitable investment that creates value for humankind and the planet.

We need to take on the global problem of degraded lands and find innovative solutions to rise above. However, government support is necessary in order to be able to quickly and efficiently perfect our business and technological models and mobilize more private capital, thus allowing organizations like Viridis Terra to become world leaders in the industry.

Martin Beaudoin Nadeau

Founder and CEO of Viridis Terra International

About Viridis Terra

Viridis Terra is a Canadian clean-tech company specialized in the restoration and return into production of degraded lands, including mine sites, to face the global problem of land degradation, disappearance of biodiversity, in addition to fighting climate change. The company has developed an innovative technological and managerial package for large-scale integrated forest and agroforest landscape restoration (IFLR®). This package increases, by two (2) to three (3), land and tree productivity compared to traditional technologies while ensuring sustainability, reducing operation costs, creating new livelihoods and revenue streams for landholders and local communities, and allowing to scale-up and carry out activities effectively on a very large-scale and transparent way. The package includes our own Viridis Terra field-based patent-pending biotechnologies for the restoration of natural forests, hi-tech tree factory for the production of high-quality seedlings for commercial purposes, biotech lab for the production of biofertilizers, and plant micropropagation by somatic embryogenesis, remote sensing and geo-traceability technologies, in addition to our digital blockchain-based platform called TreesOfLives®, which plays three important functions: an impact investment vehicle in our projects, a project operation data management system, and a system for the sale of project outputs (certified timber, agri-food, energy wood, offsets). The business model allows us to transform the cost of restoration and reforestation into an investment that generates returns for the investors through time. Viridis Terra currently has operations in Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and West Africa