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Building Back Better: Natural Capital Accounting for a Green Recovery

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Top global experts discuss why it’s time to move beyond GDP and value nature for its worth.

Around the world, economic statistics tell a story of 100 years of progress. But they conceal a parallel story of mounting environmental pressures – climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss – that undermine it. By omitting one of humanity’s greatest assets – nature – these statistics ultimately slow progress towards a sustainable, resilient future.

As economies begin their recovery from the COVID-19  pandemic, we need to build back better by moving beyond GDP towards a system that recognizes all of society’s assets – natural, human, social, and institutional, harnesses their interdependencies, and delivers the 2030 Agenda.

This webinar, co-hosted by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, brought together world-leading experts to discuss how natural capital accounting can help in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution (responsible for over seven million deaths a year).

Panelists discuss the economic rationale for placing nature at the heart of the recovery from COVID-19, highlighting a global UN-led effort to develop new statistics that reveal, rather than conceal, the impacts and dependencies of economies on nature. The resulting System of Environmental Economic Accounts – Ecosystem Accounting is expected to be adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 2021, providing high-quality, rigorous data on biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment-economy nexus.

Speakers include:

  • Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
  • Dr. Monica Contestabile, Editor in Chief, Nature Sustainability, as moderator of the event.
  • Professor Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Cambridge
  • Elliott Harris, United Nations Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Bert Kroese, Deputy Director General, Statistics Netherlands and Chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting

Related reports discussed during the webinar include:

  1. How Natural Capital Accounting Contributes to Integrated Policies for Sustainability and associated reports (United Nations, 2020)
  2. Building Forward: Investing in a Resilient Recovery (Agarwala, et al 2020)
  3. The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity (HM Treasury, 2020)

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