In this special episode of the Thinkers & Ideas podcast, we invited Sir Partha Dasgupta and Simon Levin – co-authors of the forthcoming report “Economic Factors Underlying Biodiversity Loss” – and Georg Kell to discuss a topic often overlooked in sustainability discussions: biodiversity. They discuss gaps in our current thinking, a potential path forward, how to measure our progress along it – and the role corporations must play in all this.
Sir Partha Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge. He is widely regarded as the world’s most influential expert on development economics and ecological economics, and is the author of The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review (2021).
Simon Levin is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University and a recipient of the National Medal of Science, for his international leadership and critical contributions to environmental science and ecology.
Georg Kell is the founding Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, and Chairman of Arabesque Partners.
Together with Martin Reeves, Chairman of the BCG Henderson Institute, they discuss the importance of ecosystem services to our well-being and the impacts of human activity on biodiversity. Moreover, they discuss inclusive wealth and other measures that can be used to change incentive structures and track our progress on sustainability issues. Finally, they point out what businesses and governments must do to increase awareness and engagement on biodiversity matters.
Key topics discussed:
[02:28] How are humans impacting nature, specifically biodiversity?
[04:08] The distinction between natural goods and natural services
[07:02] Is biodiversity and the natural impact issue on the radar screens of business?
[09:03] Are we at a point of no return? How would we know if we are?
[10:50] Do we in fact look after biodiversity by looking after the climate?
[12:42] Inclusive wealth vs. GDP
[18:18] How can governments and companies begin to act on the problem of the encroachment on natural systems?
[26:41] What can we learn from our limited successes on massive collective action problems and how we might practically orchestrate this agenda?
Additional inspiration from the guests:
- Dasgupta, P. (2021), The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review. (London: HM Treasury)
- Publications by Simon A. Levin et al.
- Sustainability, Technology, and Finance: Rethinking How Markets Integrate ESG, edited by Herman Bril, Georg Kell, and Andreas Rasche (Routledge, 2022)