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The economics of biodiversity

SANDEE’s work has explored the relationship between biodiversity and economics in South Asia

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2021 saw the launch of The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review. Commissioned by the UK Government, this independent review provides a global assessment of the economic benefits of biodiversity and the costs of biodiversity loss. It was published ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Dasgupta Review addresses the exclusion of nature from economic models and argues that gross domestic product (GDP) is no longer fit for purpose in judging the economic progress of nations since it does not account for the depreciation of assets, such as biodiversity loss, and the degradation of natural capital. The report concludes on an optimistic note by stating that “the same ingenuity that led us to make demands on Nature that are so large, so damaging and over such a short period, can be redeployed to bring about transformative change, perhaps even in just as short a time”.

In his preface, Sir Partha Dasgupta lists SANDEE, a research capacity and academic leadership development network that works in South Asia and now in the HKH, as among the prominent institutions that have laid the groundwork for the economics of biodiversity, noting that “…at an institutional level, the economics of biodiversity has found its greatest expression since the early 1990s in [these] research and teaching networks”. He highlights the role that SANDEE – which he founded along with the late Prof Karl-Göran Mäler in 1999 – has played in organising regular teaching and research workshops and funding the work of young economists in South Asia. As a result, SANDEE alumni have been publishing locally grounded high-quality research that provides the evidence base for informed policy making. Recently, SANDEE launched a multi-country study on the economics of forest restoration programmes that countries in the region have been implementing for decades.

The Dasgupta Review underlines the role of research and teaching networks like SANDEE in addressing the exclusion of nature from economic models

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