Frontiers of Change

How Nature-based Solutions in coastal areas can help address global crises

Our human, environmental and economic health are inextricably linked. Given the unprecedented crisis of natural environment ecosystems in coastal areas, including mangroves, coral and oyster reefs, and seagrass meadows, global and local legislators alike have a  ‘moral duty’ to provide a resilient future for the next generations.

In collaboration with the World Government Summit, we have examined a series of case studies led by governments in East Asia, Africa and the GCC, to make the case for how Nature-based Solutions (NbS) offer a unique, low-tech and cost effective opportunity to tackle current and future global crises. If implemented cohesively and in an integrated manner, NbS can address multiple overlapping challenges simultaneously: they can help mitigate climate change, reverse biodiversity loss, help prevent future pandemics and support economic development. By putting in place the right policies and enabling conditions, governments can play a crucial role in unleashing the potential of these solutions.

‘Frontiers of Change’ calls on Governments to prioritise NbS, integrating them into national development planning across government departments, not just environment ministries, and considering economic development through an NbS lense. Furthermore, a fundamental reset of how governments value the natural environment is required to recalibrate national spending priorities, and the full value of ecosystem services should be calculated to allow transparent cost comparisons between NbS and traditional approaches.

Regional and international collaboration is a must, especially as ecosystems often cross national boundaries, and are affected by both public and private sector actions. NbS are an important means for governments to meet their international obligations, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Paris Climate Accord), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also offer the private sector regeneration opportunities to help address their moral and corporate social responsibilities, and to be held accountable on some of their ESG obligations.

The WHO estimates that the global economy loses out on around $1 trillion in productivity each year due to workers suffering from anxiety or depression, the two most common mental disorders.

Executive Summary

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined good mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.1 The purpose of this report is to set out a practical program of action for governments, policymakers, businesses and communities to build mentally resilient societies where citizens are supported at every stage of their lives to achieve this state of mental wellbeing.

Improving citizens’ mental health is both a moral imperative and a matter of enlightened public self-interest. For example, the WHO estimates that the global economy loses out on around $1 trillion in productivity each year due to workers suffering from anxiety or depression, the two most common mental disorders.2 Mental health is more than merely the absence of diagnosed mental illnesses and conditions such as schizophrenia or substance abuse. Wellbeing is a positive state that requires constant monitoring and self-management.

Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented mental health crisis, amid lockdowns, social distancing constraints, job losses, enforced home schooling and the sudden shift to remote working. Loneliness, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and a host of other issues have afflicted people of all ages who previously regarded themselves as psychologically “normal.” This connects with a critical theme in our report – the importance of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health to ensure that such issues are no longer sources of embarrassment or shame for the sufferer, or dismissed by family, friends and employers.

The report’s perspective is deliberately pragmatic, drawing on PwC’s own experience of supporting its global workforce at a time of unprecedented stress, and on examples of best practice by governments, businesses and voluntary organizations around the world.

Key recommendations for governments globally and in the Middle East:

  • Fully integrate holistic wellbeing initiatives into mainstream public health services by 2025
  • Incorporate wellbeing into health outcome measurements by 2025
  • In the Middle East, collaborate to establish a wellbeing and high-performance innovation and research hub

 

1. World Health Organization, “Mental health: strengthening our response”, March 30, 2018, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response#:~:text=Mental%20health%20is%20a%20state,to%20his%20or%20her%20community.
2. World Health Organization, “Mental health in the workplace”, https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace#:~:text=A%20recent%20WHO%2Dled%20study,or%20getting%20work%20is%20protective.
 

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