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New financial tools to fund restoration of contaminated soils and sediments

New financial tools and sources must be harnessed to fund soil restoration and remediation projects to improve communities’ health, according to a new series of reports from a coalition of researchers from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Norwegian Institute of Water Research and the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning (CAEP).

Soil contamination has become an urgent issue globally. In China alone, nearly 20 per cent of farmland is contaminated, posing a severe health risk, estimates of the cost of cleaning these contaminated soils run to USD 1.3 trillion, more than 10% of China’s annual GDP. However, the Chinese central government only budgeted for less than USD 5 billion and leaves a considerable gap for private funding to invest.

“When our soils are contaminated, they pose an immediate threat to our communities’ health and well-being,” says Oshani Perera, Director, Public Procurement and Infrastructure Finance, IISD, one of the authors of the reports. “Although governments want to help their communities, we often see these soil remediation projects costing far more than they can afford alone.”

Governments need to be aware of the financial vehicles available to attract investments for soil remediation projects. These funding opportunities not only remedy degraded lands, but provide adequate funding for greener forms of development, including green urban infrastructure, renewable energy, clean industrial technology, public transportation and more.

On August 31, top legislatures in China adopted the Soil Pollution and Prevention Law, proposing the establishment of earmarked funding to fight against soil pollutions. The law also establishes legal basis for issuing tax credits and developing innovative credit enhancement tools to encourage private investments into soil remediation projects.

“The funding challenge may seem daunting, but so are the public health consequences of not addressing soil contamination in our communities,” adds Perera. “The future stability of society, and the very legitimacy of our governments, is closely linked to addressing how to fund soil remediation projects to ensure the long-term health of our current and future generations.”

Read full press release on the IISD website.

PS! A webinar is scheduled on September 12th to officially launch these reports and to introduce the new Soil Pollution Prevention Law adopted last week in China. Link to the webinar will be found at IISD website.

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