British Indian economist Partha Dasgupta lays out formula to rebalance humanity

British Indian economist Partha Dasgupta lays out formula to rebalance humanity

“Nature is our home. Good economics demands we manage it better,” concludes British Indian economist Professore Sir Partha Dasgupta, who has just completed a major review for the UK government on how we prepare a global balance sheet that takes nature into account.

“Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them. It also means accounting fully for the impact of our interactions with nature across all levels of society. Covid-19 has shown us what can happen when we don’t do this,” he said.

The Cambridge University Emeritus Professor’s ‘The Economics of Biodiversity’ review, commissioned by the HM Treasury department and launched at the Royal Society by Prince Charles this week, is dubbed as the first comprehensive economic framework of its kind for biodiversity. The findings warn that humanity has collectively mismanaged its global portfolio of assets, meaning the demands on nature far exceed its capacity to supply the goods and services we all rely on.

Reverse loss

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I welcome Professor Dasgupta’s Review, which makes clear that protecting and enhancing nature needs more than good intentions – it requires concerted, coordinated action. This year is critical in determining whether we can stop and reverse the concerning trend of fast-declining biodiversity.

“As co-host of COP26 [United Nations climate summit] and president of this year’s G7, we are going to make sure the natural world stays right at the top of the global agenda.”

Prof. Dasgupta’s review argues that nature is our most precious asset and that significant declines in biodiversity are undermining the productivity, resilience and adaptability of nature. This in turn has put our economies, livelihoods and well-being at risk.

The review calls for urgent and transformative change in how we think, act and measure economic success and sets out the ways in which we should account for nature in economics and decision-making.

Rebalance humanity

UK environment secretary George Eustice said: “If we want to realise the aspiration set out in Professor Dasgupta’s landmark review to rebalance humanity’s relationship with nature, then we need policies that will both protect and enhance the supply of our natural assets.”

The review sets out three broad areas of focus:

  • ensuring humanity’s demands on nature do not exceed its sustainable supply;

  • adopting a different metrics for economic success to move towards an inclusive measure of wealth that accounts for the benefits from investing in natural assets;

  • and transforming institutions and systems to enable these changes and sustain them for future generations.

“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," said broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough, who joined HRH the Prince of Wales for the launch of the review.

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