Africa’s prosperity depends on preserving its vast natural wealth, yet the continent’s natural capital stocks are dwindling rapidly.

This is one of the conclusions in a new report by the German government, offering a comprehensive assessments of the strong links between Africa’s development and nature protection. The study lays out evidence that economic recovery and nature protection are closely intertwined, emphasizing that investing in nature is a critical development strategy, with benefits that are eight- to nine-times the costs.

Written by a team of researchers from Germany, Morocco, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire, the study shows that the continent’s most important economic sectors – including agriculture, fishing, tourism and hydropower – will thrive if nature is protected.

It also points to the critical role nature plays in building resilience against the impacts of climate change, including natural hazards and disasters.

The report embraces human rights and social justice as foundational principles to conservation, and calls for the participation and inclusion of local and Indigenous communities. It argues that nature conservation can only succeed in partnership with those living directly with, and relying on, nature.

The study comes on the heels of an announcement that the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) will be delayed again due to the coronavirus pandemic. The biodiversity summit, where 196 countries will agree on an action plan for ending the nature crisis, is now scheduled to take place in two parts: virtually from 11-15 October 2021 and in person in Kunming, China from 25 April to 8 May 2022.

Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, says: “This study confirms for Africa what other recent studies have shown for the global economy: protecting nature is a wise investment that generates benefits to economies and local communities that far exceed the costs. Now is the time for action, including protecting at least 30% of the planet by 2030 and mobilizing the financial resources for effective implementation.

“With this report and its financial support for international conservation, Germany is helping to lead the way. It’s well past time for high-income countries to step up and help make the investments in nature that Africa and other lower-income regions need. For their sake and for all our sakes.”