Whale Shark at Gladden Spit in Belize's Barrier Reef.
Whale Shark Whale Shark at Gladden Spit in Belize's Barrier Reef. © Tony Rath

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Biodiversity’s big moment? The Dasgupta Review makes the economic case for nature

The Nature Conservancy applauds the UK Government for publishing the most rigorous review to date of how our economies are embedded in nature

Her Majesty’s Treasury – the UK’s central finance ministry – today published The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, its eagerly-anticipated analysis exploring the full extent of nature’s contribution to our global economies, livelihoods and wellbeing.

Led by Indian-British economist Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta of the University of Cambridge, The Dasgupta Review concludes clearly that nature’s services are essential to functioning societies. By assessing the benefits delivered by biodiversity globally; exploring the costs and risks associated with nature loss; and identifying a range of actions that have potential to simultaneously enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity, it makes the economic case for both conservation and incorporating ‘natural capital’ accounting into national economic systems. Significantly, it represents the first time that a national finance ministry has sponsored a full assessment of nature’s economic importance.

As policymakers look ahead to the critical UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 in Kunming, China, closely followed by the equally crucial UN Climate Change Summit (COP26) in Glasgow in late 2021, Professor Dasgupta’s study builds on other major contributions in this area – including The Nature Conservancy’s Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap [September 2020], which projected that we need to secure US$722-967 billion per year for nature to reverse current declines by 2030.

Shared general recommendations include:

- Make our food and energy systems sustainable

- Conserve nature rather than degrade it, including through protected areas and improved management of working lands

- Restore what’s been degraded

- Encourage the role of large-scale spatial planning and multi-use landscapes and seascapes

- Employ nature-based solutions

- Integrate nature into post-COVID recovery plans.  

Commenting on this landmark review, Jennifer Morris – CEO of The Nature Conservancy – said:

“The Dasgupta Review issues a clarion call to world leaders: we must tackle the nature crisis in conjunction with the climate emergency for the sake of our economies, livelihoods, and wellbeing – and those of future generations.

“In the same way 2006’s Stern Review proved transformational in raising awareness of climate risk for business and financial markets, the publication of the Dasgupta Review is likely to represent a similar watershed moment for how we come to value the contributions made by nature across nearly every aspect of our lives. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the full extent of our broken connection with nature—but it has also highlighted the power of global, radical collaboration in addressing complex problems with urgency. This same collective energy must now be applied to preventing the further destruction of nature.

“Science shows us that nature is teetering on a knife-edge – future generations will judge us for how we respond. The hopeful news, as Professor Dasgupta also observes, is that transformative change is still possible.

“Globally, policymakers, financiers and corporations must work in urgent lockstep to improve nature’s ability to sustainably supply the goods and services humanity relies on; revisit how we define wealth and wellbeing with new metrics; and account for the real-world cost of products and services by factoring in their impact on climate and nature. This review adds evidence to the growing body of work demonstrating how we must accelerate the transformation of mainstream finance to better account for biodiversity’s contribution.  

"The upcoming UN COPs on climate and biodiversity in 2021 provide an unparalleled opportunity to redefine the relationship between people and nature. Our shared planet is counting on all of us to step up and protect our natural world for generations to come."

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.