Much of the global economy depends on natural capital—the world’s stock of natural assets. Acting as the planet’s balance sheet, natural capital provides critical services and resilience. It supports water cycles and soil formation while protecting our communities from major storms, floods, fires, and desertification. By absorbing CO2, it limits the pace of climate change. Biodiversity, a core component of natural capital, supports activities as wide-ranging as pharmaceutical innovation, ecotourism, and crop pollination. These are just a few of the numerous “co-benefits” that make nature so valuable. Yet the complexity of natural capital makes its benefits hard to quantify, leading many to overlook nature as an investment opportunity. In this report, we describe and apply a methodology that can help quantify some of the costs and benefits of conserving natural capital.
Reformation of our financial systems to accurately price and value natural assets is essential for a sustainable future. Disclosure of climate-related financial risks is one important measure that will move business in the right direction.
Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change
Sandra Díaz, Josef Settele, Eduardo S. Brondízio, Hien T. Ngo, John Agard, Almut Arneth, Patricia Balvanera, Kate A. Brauman, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Kai M. A. Chan, Lucas A. Garibaldi, Kazuhito Ichii, Jianguo Liu, Suneetha M. Subramanian, Guy F. Midgley, Patricia Miloslavich, Zsolt Molnár, David Obura, Alexander Pfaff, Stephen Polasky, Andy Purvis, Jona Razzaque, Belinda Reyers, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Yunne-Jai Shin, Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, Katherine J. Willis, & Cynthia N. Zayas
For decades, scientists have been raising calls for societal changes that will reduce our impacts on nature. Though much conservation has occurred, our natural environment continues to decline under the weight of our consumption. Humanity depends directly on the output of nature; thus, this decline will affect us, just as it does the other species with which we share this world. Díaz et al. review the findings of the largest assessment of the state of nature conducted as of yet. They report that the state of nature, and the state of the equitable distribution of nature’s support, is in serious decline. Only immediate transformation of global business-as-usual economies and operations will sustain nature as we know it, and us, into the future.