AIIB Launches Report on Transformative Concept of Defining Nature as Infrastructure

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) launched its 2023 Asian Infrastructure Finance report, titled Nature as Infrastructure, with a panel discussion at its COP28 pavilion.

Amid accelerating climate change, the increasing value of carbon capture, and the ongoing degradation of biodiversity globally, the concept of Nature as Infrastructure arrives at a pivotal moment.

Viewing Nature as Infrastructure offers a transformative approach to recognizing the value of nature and enhancing investment in the protection of nature and biodiversity, says the AIIB.

“It is high time for us to come to terms with nature; we cannot keep asking for more,” said AIIB President and Chair of the Board of Directors Jin Liqun. “This process of reconciliation must begin by understanding and recognizing the value that nature can offer us. Our ambition must be to turn the idea of nature as infrastructure from an abstract concept into an impactful asset class that commands increasing levels of investment and regulatory attention.”

Viewing Nature as Infrastructure entails mitigating the impact of human development on nature. It includes nature-based solutions, direct investments into nature assets to sustain critical infrastructure-like services and directing more finance toward nature.

Potential solutions toward a nature-positive future were discussed during the panel and are explored further in AIIB’s 2023 Asian Infrastructure Finance Report: “Nature as Infrastructure.”

“MDBs must work to close the financing gap to adopt a more nature-friendly development path and reverse biodiversity loss,” said Erik Berglof, Chief Economist of AIIB. “We must go beyond ‘do no harm’ and even beyond ‘nature-positive’ investment and look at how we can draw on the full potential of nature. This means unlocking fresh financing from our balance sheets, deploying new lending instruments, and using our convening power to better mobilize private finance.”

Incorporating nature into investments is already a key priority for AIIB and the report supports the existing strategy at the Bank. During the AIIB’s 8th Annual Meeting in September 2023, AIIB unveiled its inaugural Climate Action Plan (CAP), which set out the Bank’s ongoing commitment to combatting climate change through four key principles.

As part of the CAP, AIIB signaled its intention to focus on solutions that simultaneously mitigate climate change, build resilience, enhance adaptation, and offer co-benefits for biodiversity and nature conservation. Viewing nature as infrastructure and integrating nature-based solutions into infrastructure design will enhance climate resilience.

Drawing on extensive data and case studies from all over the world, the report points to opportunities to maximize nature as our most critical infrastructure.

Building on the basic understanding that there is a need to understand the value of nature—as well as how the economy of countries and sectors depends on nature—the report goes on to discuss how nature can provide infrastructure-like services, which in turn should influence how gray infrastructure and investments in nature’s restoration are made.