The Economics of Biodiversity. Dasgupta Review
Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s review on The Economics of Biodiversity 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 – which was commissioned by HM Treasury - sets out the ways in which we should account for nature in economics and decision-making.
Some key messages of the 600-pages report:
- Human beings are fully dependent on biodiversity and are part of it.
Only about 1% of the species that have existed during the history of life on Earth live in the ecosystems into which humans evolved and live now. From the time that human beings evolved, our dependency on biodiversity, that is, the diversity of life, has remained complete. Indeed, we ourselves are a part of biodiversity.
- We must value and embed nature in decision-making and disclosure to go beyond short-term profit and GDP.
In order to fully integrate the value of nature in decision-making, the Review argues that we must change the metrics by which we evaluate success and move beyond our unhealthy reliance on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While GDP is useful for short-term measurement of economic activity, it omits all environmental and social considerations and paves the way for unsustainable development. Instead, the Review argues, we must shift towards measurements of “inclusive wealth,” which incorporate natural capital, as well as produced and human capital. The Review also recognises the importance of social capital, which – like biodiversity – it frames as an enabling asset. It argues social capital – more simply,trust – increases the value of an economy’s capital goods and is essential for the effective institutions needed for sustainable engagement with nature.
It is time to reform subsidies and incentive mechanisms and finance a just transformation.
According to the review, transformation of our financial systems – public, private, national and international alike – is critical to spur the change needed. Financial investments which harm ecosystems and biodiversity must be diverted towards those investments which restore and replenish nature. We must eliminate harmful subsidies that damage nature to the tune of US$4-6 trillion per year and redirect them to reward businesses who design innovative, circular and profitable business models that deliver positive long-term outcomes for nature.
The risk of ecosystem collapse is real
Human beings, together with the livestock we rear for food, constitute 96% of the mass of all mammals on the planet. Only 4% is everything else – from elephants to badgers, from moose to monkeys. And 70% of all birds alive at this moment are poultry – mostly chickens for us to eat. We are destroying biodiversity, the very characteristic Foreword 2 The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review that until recently enabled the natural world to flourish so abundantly. If we continue this damage, whole ecosystems will collapse. That is now a real risk.
COPYRIGHT ©2019 biodiversity premises