Options Magazine, Winter 2023: In the quest for sustainable development, IIASA researchers advocate for a paradigm shift, urging a greater focus on mobilizing the private sector and using the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst to reshape humanity's approach to conservation and development policies.

When it comes to sustainable development, few things are as important as biodiversity. However, the past decade has seen multiple disruptions to biodiversity conservation, including insufficient financial provisions and the effects of COVID-19.

IIASA researchers and colleagues analyzed numerous policy frameworks and found that they focus largely on public sector interventions. Focusing on East and Southeast Asia, the researchers suggest that mobilizing the private sector in this effort will have a more significant impact for sustainability. In fact, according to the study, the recent global pandemic can be seen as an opportunity to transform mankind’s approach to sustainability.

“Myopic visions and a lack of systems thinking have consistently delayed the implementation of conservation strategies,” explains study author Ali Kharrazi, a senior researcher in the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis Program. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a tragedy for humankind, it has also highlighted the risks and vulnerabilities of ignoring nature in economic and development policies. To this end, the world should not rely solely on government-led approaches, which are inherently slow and inflexible. Instead, society should promote a more active role for the private sector and businesses that understand the value of impacts on natural capital. In this manuscript, we highlighted the opportunities that can mobilize the private sector towards the reforms needed for sustainable development. COVID-19 has offered an opportunity to deliberate and decide on direction-setting ambitious targets that can trigger and facilitate such transformations towards nature conservation.”

By Jeremy Summers


Natori, Y., Kharrazi, A. , Portela, R., & Gough, M. (2022). Nature-Based Solutions in the Private Sector: Policy Opportunities for Sustainability in a Post-Pandemic World. In: SDGs in the Asia and Pacific Region . Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Regional Perspectives. Eds. Leal Filho, W., Ng, T.F., Iyer-Raniga, U., Ng, A., & Sharifi, A., pp. 1-23 Cham: Springer International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-030-91262-8 10.1007/978-3-030-91262-8_113-1.