Our current way of looking at growth considers economic activity separate from the natural world, however our economies are embedded in the biosphere and its regenerative capacity should be our upper limit to our economic demands.
Think of the biosphere’s natural capital as a fund and regenerative ecosystem services as the interest.
Long term, our use of the fund is only sustainable if we withdraw from the interest stream and do not deplete the capital. If not, the capital diminishes, and the interest stream reduces until there is nothing left!
So, we need a paradigm shift that incorporates nature as a boundary system and a pillar for growth.
Right now, over one third of global land surface and two thirds of our surface water supply are devoted to crop and livestock production. We are removing biodiversity at an alarming rate and need to return land for all species to survive and thrive.
We should embed natural capital and biodiversity at the core of the financial sector’s decision-making. Make access to financial markets dependent on protecting nature and promoting regeneration. Bring sovereign debt into alignment too.
Those that exploit natural capital do not pay the full cost they contribute to the biosphere, in a way we as society are subsidising them. A way to address the problem is to assess and reform subsidies to these activities that the OECD estimates to be $4-6trillion per year. We need this money and these policies to be turned around to support regeneration.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is designing a post 2020 global diversity framework. We can only achieve its 2050 vision of valuing, conserving, restoring and using biodiversity wisely through international consensus on targets and transparent implementation of commitments.
We need to value the biodiversity of our planet financially so that we can reward and incentivise indigenous people to protect and regenerate it. Perhaps a system similar to Carbon Credits is needed?
We need business to be at the forefront of this change developing business models that solve these social and environmental problems economically not creating them.
Have you heard of the Dasgupta Review – Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity?
It’s a study for HM Treasury. Part 1 has been published and the final report is due in 2022 – an interesting read?