Drawing from Dr. Partha Dasgupta’s transformative talk at UIA23, we’re brought to face the stark reality of our relationships with nature, our economies, and our overall well-being. Our biosphere, he urged, should be seen not just as a resource but as a vital, self-regenerative asset, contributing significantly to our economies.

It’s alarming to note that as per a 2020 report by the World Economic Forum, over half of the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature. However, our consumption patterns have led to an unsustainable decline in this natural capital. By some estimates, we’re losing $4-20 trillion per year due to environmental damage.

Dasgupta made a compelling case for a paradigm shift: seeing our economies as part of nature, not external to it. Our institutions often fail to reflect nature’s true value in market prices, inadvertently promoting exploitation over preservation. He suggests incorporating ‘Monetary Natural Capital’ into our economic systems, a concept the UK is currently exploring.

Moreover, he introduced ‘Inclusive Wealth’ as an alternative to GDP. This measure includes all assets, even natural ones, thus capturing a more comprehensive picture of economic development.

He advocated for polycentric institutional arrangements. By pooling knowledge across global, regional, national, and local organizations, we can cultivate more sustainable policies. Transforming our financial system to invest in enhancing natural assets and sustainable practices is also crucial.

His talk further highlighted the importance of sustainable practices in food and energy sectors. With just 2% of global GDP (around $1.5 trillion based on 2021 figures) invested in clean energy, we could catalyze a complete energy transition, significantly enhancing our natural capital. Remember, it’s more cost-effective to conserve nature than to restore it once damaged.

In conclusion, the route to a sustainable future lies in a holistic shift in how we perceive and interact with nature. Through disciplined choices, we can demand sustainable practices from institutions. This journey towards a balanced coexistence with nature requires a collective commitment and transformative change. It’s our shared responsibility to preserve natural resources for generations to come.

Keynote Dialogue with Mette Skjold and Partha Dasgupta, UIA23, July 6 2023

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