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Global economy will be hit by decline in natural assets

Money to invest in nature

14 February

A new Global Futures study, created through a partnership between WWF, the Global Trade Analysis Project and the Nature Capital Project, has estimated that the reduction of natural ecosystems will lead to global economic hits.

Tiffany Hionas

Globally, the loss of natural assets will cost at least £368bn annually, which could rise to £8trn by 2050. In the UK, the decline of forestry, coastal protection and water supply will cost the UK £16bn in terms of loss of GDP.

This analysis is based on an economic model which identifies the future global and national economic impacts which will take place due to natural changes. This model considers the different ecosystem services nature provides; the supply of water for agriculture; supply of timber; marine fisheries; pollination of crops; protection from flooding, storm surges and erosion; and carbon storage; all of which support the world’s economies.  Failure to protect the environment will result in major economic consequences. Investing in nature, and managing land and natural resources will be critical to stabilising the global economy.

WWF’s executive director of advocacy and campaigns Katie White said: ‘We are destroying our planet and our economic future. We need urgent, global leadership and immediate action to change the way we use land, to invest in the restoration of nature, to cut emissions and critically to stop destroying forests for food production.’

Researchers from Ohio State University have proposed that a focus on behavioural adaptation in the event of natural hazards is necessary for transformational change to occur. Robyn Wilson from Ohio State's School of Environment and Natural Resources said, ‘Thinking holistically is part of what transformation research is all about - saying we have to work together to really think differently.’

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