The world must rethink how it measures economic success to ensure that humanity's demands on nature can meet supply, an independent review on global biodiversity has concluded today.
The Dasgupta Review – commissioned by the UK government – argues that nature is currently a “blind spot” in economics, and that countries have collectively mismanaged their “global portfolio of assets”.
It highlights how demands on nature far exceed supply, and states that the introduction of natural capital into accounting systems is a “critical step” in transforming how wealth is measured across the world.
The landmark review, led by University of Cambridge economics professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, provides a framework for accounting for nature, and makes clear that urgent change now would be significantly less costly than delay.
“Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them,” Sir Partha said.
“It also means accounting fully for the impact of our interactions with nature across all levels of society. COVID-19 has shown us what can happen when we don’t do this. Nature is our home. Good economics demands we manage it better.”
The review argues that nature is the world's “most precious asset”, and that significant declines in biodiversity are undermining productivity, resilience and adaptability, threatening economies, livelihoods and well-being.
A new economic framework should move towards an inclusive measure of wealth that accounts for the benefits of investing in natural assets, and helps make clear the trade-offs between investments in different assets.
The review also states that 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.
This could be done through expanding and improving management of protected areas, increasing investment in nature-based solutions, and deploying policies that discourage damaging forms of consumption and production.
Moreover, the report suggests that institutions and systems be transformed – particularly finance and education – to sustain them for future generations. For example, by increasing public and private financial flows to natural assets, and firmly embedding nature in education policy.
Richard Curtis, screenwriter and co-founder of the Make My Money Matter initiative, said that the £3trn circulating in UK pension schemes can play an important role in halting biodiversity decline.
“Investing this money into nature-positive solutions that put our planet first could have unparalleled financial and environmental impacts, “ he continued.
“We know from our own research that pension holders want their pensions to build a healthy planet as well as providing healthy returns. The public has this huge weapon in their armoury when fighting for the planet – now is the time to use it.”
Image credit: iStock
Author: Chris Seekings