Interim Review on Economics of Biodiversity Urges Reshaping Understanding of Sustainable Growth | News | SDG Knowledge Hub


The Government of the UK published an interim version of ‘The Dasgupta Review,’ an independent, global review on the economics of biodiversity. The Review aims to guide the international response to biodiversity loss and global action to meet the SDGs.

The Review, commissioned in 2019 by the UK Government’s economic and finance ministry, is led by a Cambridge University Professor, Partha Dasgupta, and is supported by an advisory panel drawn from public policy, science, economics, finance, and business. The publication is primarily intended for economic and finance decision makers in the public and private sector.

The interim report, issued in April 2020, outlines the approach the Review is taking. The final Review, to be published ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will offer a comprehensive framework and recommend options for change. It will assess the economic benefits of biodiversity globally and the economic costs and risks of biodiversity loss, and identify actions that can enhance biodiversity while delivering economic prosperity at the same time.

The current high rates of biodiversity loss pose a major risk to our economies and our way of life.

By way of introduction, the interim report highlights linkages between biodiversity loss and climate change, and argues that “protecting and enhancing biodiversity will help us address climate change.” It acknowledges warnings issued by several international reports that “the current high rates of biodiversity loss pose a major risk to our economies and our way of life, and that urgent action is needed,” including the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment of the State of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report 2020. The interim report also underscores “the importance of biodiversity for our health and that of the global economy,” brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic, and points to the need “for the human enterprise to live within the ‘safe operating space’ of the biosphere.”

The interim report outlines the Review’s scope by addressing how and why the Review views the economics of biodiversity as “the economics of Nature,” acknowledging that humanity and our economies are embedded in the biosphere, and explaining the Review’s use of proxies for biodiversity.

The report previews the key economic and scientific concepts which will underpin the final Review, and highlights the need to:

  • recognize that biodiversity is an essential characteristic of Nature and acknowledge its role in the provision of ecosystem services;
  • view Nature as an asset, and acknowledge our failure to “manage our assets efficiently”;
  • understand the loss of Nature as “an asset management problem”;
  • understand how our total demand on the goods and services provided by Nature outstrips its ability to supply them on a sustainable basis – an imbalance the Review describes as “the Impact Inequality”;
  • accept that addressing the supply-demand imbalance involves tackling “difficult questions” about what and how we consume, how we manage our waste, and the potential role of family planning and reproductive health, among other questions;
  • acknowledge that the human economy is embedded within Nature, which, the interim Review argues, helps recognize the limits Nature places on the economy and “reshape our understanding of sustainable economic growth”; and
  • revisit our measures of success in order to maximize the wealth and well-being of present and future generations.

The interim report also provides an overview of next steps for the Review in the run-up to COP 15, and invites feedback on the detail set out in the interim report. [Publication: The Dasgupta Review – Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity: Interim Report] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on World Economic Forum’s Report on Future of Nature and Business]

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