As influential as the Stern Review: Green economy reacts to the Dasgupta biodiversity study

A new landmark review, commissioned by the Government, has suggested that services provided by nature should be assigned an economic value that is used to inform future policy decisions, a move that has been unanimously welcomed by green groups.

As influential as the Stern Review: Green economy reacts to the Dasgupta biodiversity study

The green economy has welcomed the review with open arms

The UK Government commissioned Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta to lead an independent, global Review on the Economics of Biodiversity in Spring 2019. One of the main aims of this review on the ‘Economics of Biodiversity’ was to create insight into how financial and policy decisions can reverse biodiversity loss.

It is the largest and most comprehensive review that explores the role of natural capital in delivering planetary, societal and economic prosperity. Natural capital accounting assigns a monetary value to natural resources like forests and healthy soil, allowing businesses to calculate the “true cost” of their decisions.

The green economy has welcomed the review with open arms, but many are still waiting to see how policymakers and businesses will implement the advice of the review. Here, edie rounds up some of the key thoughts from NGOs and key figures alike.

Sir David Attenborough

“The survival of the natural world depends on maintaining its complexity, its biodiversity. Putting things right requires a universal understanding of how these complex systems work. That applies to economics too.

“This comprehensive and immensely important report shows us how by bringing economics and ecology face to face, we can help to save the natural world and in doing so save ourselves.” 

Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC; Founding Partner, Global Optimism; and member of Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee

“Congratulations to Professor Dasgupta and his team for this essential Review. And kudos to the U.K. Treasury for commissioning it. It is a compelling example of the leadership we need from government and the world’s leading experts on how to address the interrelated crises of Nature and climate.

“The Review makes it clear that it is less costly to conserve Nature than to restore it once it’s damaged or degraded and provides the economic rationale for expanding and improving the management of protected areas. We can translate this idea into action by protecting 30% of the planet by 2030. The Review lays the foundation for how to address the twin crises of biodiversity and climate. We all must take these ideas and turn them into action – now.”

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP

“Professor Dasgupta’s report should serve as a wake-up call for us all. While as humans we have prospered in recent decades, it is not without cost, and it has been nature that has born the brunt of our choices. We are part of nature, and have taken it for granted with precious ecosystems at ‘tipping points’ and endangered species facing extinction.

“Professor Dasgupta has been clear that action is needed now to reverse these frightening trends. It makes economic sense rather than leaving it too late which would be even more costly to address. Nature must be seen as integral in our economy – in the same way infrastructure such as public transport and buildings are. He rightly acknowledges that COP15 and COP26, both due to be held this year, offer a unique opportunity to hit the reset button on biodiversity loss and climate change mitigation.

“My Committee looks forward to welcoming Professor Dasgupta on 24 February, where we will be exploring his report in greater depth. He will be followed by a Minister from the Treasury, offering Committee members the opportunity to hear the Government’s view on Professor Dasgupta’s findings.”

Russ Feingold, Former US Senator, former Special Envoy to Great Lakes Region of Africa, and Ambassador for the Campaign for Nature

“The Review should be read by everyone making decisions that impact Nature – not just “environmentalists” but also leaders in government and business, investors and consumers whose decisions impact the natural world that we are part of – namely, all of us.

“The Review gives new meaning to the old saying that “you get what you measure.” We need to include Nature in how we measure our economic development and our wealth. The idea that we need to measure Nature will be new to many and actually doing it will be hard. But not including Nature in our economic measurements has brought us to the biodiversity and climate crises we have today. We have no choice but to change how we measure economic progress.”

Brian O’Donnell, Director, Campaign for Nature

“The idea that we are part of Nature and that natural capital is an asset that needs to be sustainably managed will come as no surprise to Indigenous communities who have valued Nature through the ages. But, for those who have embraced economic systems based on limitless growth it requires a fundamental re-thinking of how “progress’ is valued and measured

“The Review is the most comprehensive economic case for a new path forward ever compiled. Now that we have entered a climate and ecological emergency, it is urgent that we update our economic systems at all levels to fully include nature.”

Richard Curtis, Co-founder, Make My Money Matter

“The findings of today’s review remind us that nature underpins our entire economic system. With biodiversity dangerously in decline, it clearly shows that the finance industry must act now to factor nature into its decision making and build a healthier future for our planet.    

“With £3trn circulating in UK pension schemes alone, they can play an important role in addressing this failure. Investing this money into nature positive solutions that put our planet first could have unparalleled financial and environmental impacts. 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. As a critical first step, it would be tremendous if the UK Government could establish a Global Commission for the Economy and Nature to help governments, businesses and the financial sector meet these goals, building on this review and other efforts around the world.”

Dr Nina Seega, CISL’s Research Director, Sustainable Finance and part of the peer review team for the Dasgupta Review

“The Dasgupta Review’s focus on completely rewiring mainstream economic and financial models is key to moving the nature debate onto the agenda of governments, financial regulators and individual financial firms. It is especially pertinent to take the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 crisis to reflect on and align the underpinnings of our economic and financial system with a sustainable future.

“However, if we are to learn from the climate journey, we cannot rely on public policy and financial regulation alone to deliver change at the pace required. From the very start, a more structural involvement of private financial capital needs to be mobilised – alongside blended capital, supported by multilateral development institutions. This requires action from private financial institutions and global corporations that includes: embedding nature in their operational and business strategies; understanding, measuring and managing nature-related financial risks; calculating the impact of their activities on nature as well as directing capital towards nature-based solutions.

“The review provides us with a firm foundation for this work and enables us to move from commitment to nature restoration and protection to fully embedding nature in our economic and financial systems.”

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF

“The findings of the Review are clear: nature underpins our economies and our prosperity. Our failure to recognise this fundamental truth, and take steps to reverse nature loss, is costing us dear. To safeguard our future, we must transform our economies and finance systems, so they are geared towards restoring the natural world on which we all depend. 

“Our climate and nature goals need to become a core part of how decisions are made on all aspects of policy – and in particular economic and fiscal policy, with a test to make sure public spending aligns with the Government’s net-zero commitments. 

“We also need the UK Government to throw its full weight behind establishing a new Global Commission on Economy and Nature – because if we’re going to succeed, we need to see countries working together to tackle this enormous threat.”

Sir Roger Gifford, member of the Dasgupta Review’s Advisory Panel,  and Chair of the Green Finance Institute

“The Dasgupta Review confirms what we know in our hearts is true – in our failure to value natural capital in trade and commerce we have pushed our ecosystems to breaking point. We must respond – what is needed is no less than a fundamental and urgent rethink of how we source and use basic commodities and finance has a crucial role to play in making this happen.”

Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Green Finance Institute and Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group of the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)

“The Dasgupta Review makes clear that the value of nature and ecosystem services to our global economy urgently needs to be translated into financial risk models and impact assessments. In response, we need determined action in redirecting global financial flows away from nature-negative outcomes and towards nature-positive outcomes. As with climate, to achieve a nature-positive transition will require all of finance to work together to be part of the solution – both private and public.” 

Dr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive, Woodland Trust

“Our economy and our wellbeing depend on nature. We rely on it for everything, from food, shelter and water to climate regulation and opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment, but it is being depleted at an alarming rate.  Biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history and our demands on nature continue to increase. Alarmingly, the UK is currently a global leader for the wrong reasons – the demands we place on land over many decades has left us arguably the most nature depleted country in Europe.     

“As with climate change (which is inextricably linked to nature-loss), it is incumbent upon the UK to show leadership in its actions to restore nature. To go beyond simple words. For woods and trees this means protecting what we’ve got, restoring what is damaged and creating more, via both planting and natural regeneration.   

“We are glad to see Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s review 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. This thinking must be a clarion call for government to act especially with the world watching in the run-up to COP26. None of us can afford to ignore nature if we are to survive and thrive. ”

Matt Mace

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