A fundamental change in how we think about and approach economics is needed if we are to reverse biodiversity loss and protect and enhance our prosperity, according to an independent, global review on the Economics of Biodiversity which was virtually launched by the Royal Society on 2 February. Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s review presents the first comprehensive economic framework of its kind for biodiversity. It calls for urgent and transformative change in how we think, act and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world.
Grounded in a deep understanding of ecosystem processes and how they are affected by economic activity, the new framework presented by the Dasgupta review, commissioned in Spring 2019 by HM Treasury, is the first of its kind and set out the ways in which we should account for nature in economics and decision-making.
The publication of the Review comes ahead of COP15 for Biological Diversity, where new long-term international targets for addressing biodiversity loss are expected to be agreed; and COP26 for climate change, where Nature and nature-based solutions to climate change are expected to play a prominent role.
The Review makes clear that urgent and transformative action taken now would be significantly less costly than delay and will require change on three broad fronts:
- Humanity must ensure its demands on nature do not exceed its sustainable supply and must increase the global supply of natural assets relative to their current level. For example, expanding and improving management of Protected Areas; increasing investment in Nature-based Solutions; and deploying policies that discourage damaging forms of consumption and production.
- We should adopt different metrics for economic success and move towards an inclusive measure of wealth that accounts for the benefits from investing in natural assets and helps to make clear the trade-offs between investments in different assets. Introducing natural capital into national accounting systems is a critical step.
- We must transform our institutions and systems – particularly finance and education – to enable these changes and sustain them for future generations. For example, by increasing public and private financial flows that enhance our natural assets and decrease those that degrade them; and by empowering citizens to make informed choices and demand change, including by firmly establishing the natural world in education policy.
The report can be read at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review