• Rebecca Gray

Launching 'The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review'

Bex Gray introduces the upcoming Dasgupta Review, which presents a new framework for economic policy and its relationship with Nature.

In 2019, HM Treasury commissioned a global, independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta. The Review presents a new and comprehensive economic framework, grounded in ecology and earth sciences.

It offers a way to understand the sustainability of humanity’s engagement with Nature and sets out the options for change available to decision makers as they look to restore nature, build prosperous economies and enhance our wellbeing. After a lot of hard work, the Review team are delighted to announce that it is now ready to launch.

Why is biodiversity so important?

When confronted with the idea of biodiversity loss, many people instinctively think about the destruction of the world’s rainforests, or the bleaching of once vibrant coral reefs. The desolation of faraway tropical ecosystems is a very real and concerning problem, but the challenge is far more pervasive.

Our economies and wellbeing all fundamentally depend on Nature. We are entirely reliant on the natural environment to provide us with food, water, oxygen to regulate our climate and provide us with spiritual fulfilment and recuperation. Put simply, Nature is our most precious asset.

Biodiversity is essential to the provision of these vital goods and services. Just as diversity within a financial portfolio reduces risk and uncertainty, diversity within a portfolio of natural assets – biodiversity – increases Nature’s productivity and its resilience to shocks.

How does this relate to the Review?

Despite the importance of Nature to our wellbeing and economies, numerous scientific studies have made it unequivocally clear that we are destroying the natural world at an alarming rate. The Review explores the underlying causes of this disruption, and constructs a robust economic framework which sets out how policymakers should account for Nature in decision-making.

The Review argues that mainstream economic theory and practice has ignored what we know about how ecosystems function, and how they are affected by our economic activities. In particular that our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it. This has profound consequences for the demands we make on Nature versus what it can supply. In 2020, it was estimated that we now require 1.6 Earths to maintain the world’s current living standards. This is clearly unsustainable and poses serious risks to our livelihoods and wellbeing.

Building on the Review’s Interim Report, published in April, the final Review – published next week – will set out the options we have to enhance both our prosperity and the natural environment.

blue graphic of planet earth, ocean life, and houses
Image credit: The Dasgupta Review (London: HM Treasury)

Still interested?

The Dasgupta Review’s official launch event will be livestreamed on the Royal Society’s YouTube channel on Tuesday 2nd February 2pm GMT. Join the livestream to hear Professor Dasgupta (and special guests!) speak about the Review and the actions we need to take to live more sustainably. The full report will be available on GOV.UK on 2nd February, along with an Abridged Version and our Headline Messages.

And finally…

At the beginning of the first lockdown, the Dasgupta Review team started to pull together a regular photo board of our daily interactions with Nature. We’ve managed to keep up this little tradition (with thanks to fellow CSEN member Vicky for collating!) and I’d like to share a selection with you here.

It’s hard to underestimate how important finding time to spend in Nature has been for our physical and mental well-being. Nature’s value has, for many of us, been thrown into much sharper focus over the past 11 months. Nature is our home. And good economics demands that we manage it better.

collage of photographs of nature
Image credit: Dasgupta Review Team

Bex Gray works in the Dasgupta Review team at HM Treasury.

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