What’s Going On Here?

In 2019 the UK’s Treasury commissioned The Dasgupta Review: an independent, global review of the Economics of Biodiversity led by world’s leading economist on ecology, economic, growth and development, Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta. The landmark review published on Tuesday addresses both concerned citizens (that is you, me, and your neighbour!) and governments to change how we think, act, and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world.

What Does This Mean?

The review begins with one simple truth, that we – and our economies – are ‘embedded’ within Nature and dependent on it as our most precious asset. This may seem obvious to Curious.Earth readers, after all Nature is everywhere. But currently most models of economic growth and development – which underpin the functioning of Ministries of Finance, Central Banks, and government policies – consider humanity as ‘external’ to Nature and fail to recognise its limits. Whilst we continue to invest in assets such as roads and healthcare, we not only underinvest in Nature but deplete it, at the same time increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

By collectively failing to engage with Nature sustainably, our demands far exceed Nature’s ability to regenerate and supply the goods and services we rely on. We need 1.6 Earths to maintain current living standards. 

Dasgupta’s puts forward an alternative choice for humanity: a sustainable path that will require significant transformative change, providing a framework for difficult global discussions, that should be geared towards three broad transitions: 

1)    Ensuring that our demands on Nature do not exceed its supply, and that we increase Nature’s supply relative to its current level. This includes stabilising population, consumption and dietary changes, and investing in conservation.

2)    Changing our measures of economic success to guide us on a more sustainable path. This means saying goodbye to GDP (which measures the flow of money, not the stock of national assets, and does not account for the depreciation of assets – including Nature) and replacing it with “inclusive wealth”.  

3)    Transforming our institutions and systems – in particular our finance and education systems – to enable these changes and sustain them for futures. With Dasgupta arguing that “our education systems should introduce Nature studies from the earliest stages of our lives and revisit them in secondary and tertiary education”.

Why Should We Care?

This review is the first of its kind to be commissioned by a ministry of finance, stating explicitly how our current economic models and policies are a primary reason for today’s environmental crisis.

The review provides a policy blueprint for protecting and enhancing biodiversity in ways which would enrich individuals, economies, and societies, and a robust framework for including Nature into mainstream economics.  And whether we like it or not, mainstream economic thinking influences our everyday lives. Dasgupta goes even further, by addressing the review directly to the Concerned Citizen, he calls on all of us to confront and correct the destructive effects of human activity on planet Earth, reminding us that Nature is our home. 

Be Curious!

Read the report
– Connect with Nature!
– Educate ourselves and others about Nature. 
– Acknowledge that the price of a good or service may not currently reflect its true impact. A bargain, but at what cost to Nature? Think beyond conventional price tags. 

Finally: Demand and shape the change you seek, for example by insisting that financiers invest our money sustainably, that firms disclose environmental conditions along their supply chains (product labelling is a partial method for doing that), even boycotting products that do not meet standards.