The increase in resource consumption and polluting emissions as a result of economic growth is not compatible with biodiversity conservation. However, most international policies on biodiversity and sustainability advocate economic growth. These are the main conclusions of the study “Biodiversity policy beyond economic growth,” published this week in the scientific journal Conservation Letters. This contradiction became clear after a review of international scientific and policy work on the subject. The scientific article is overseen by Iago Otero—a researcher at the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur la montagne, of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. The study involved 22 professionals from some 30 research centers in 12 countries, specializing in conservation ecology and ecological economics. Participants in the project include, among others, Katharine N. Farrell, from the University of Rosario (Colombia), Lluís Brotons, researcher from CSIC at CREAF, Giorgos Kallis from ICTA-UAB and Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos, researcher from ICTA-UAB and the University of California Berkeley.
The document recommends that the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)—the IPCC of biodiversity—incorporate in its reports a scenario that goes beyond economic growth, as part of its current work to envision the future of biodiversity. So far, the projections of change in biodiversity assume that the economy has to grow and seek policy options that minimise biodiversity loss without compromising economic growth. Instead, the article recommends beginning with conservation and social welfare objectives and then looking at what economic trajectories might meet them. “This can mean positive or negative rates of Gross Domestic Product growth,” says Iago Otero, leader of the study, adding that more and more voices in IPBES are calling for “replacement of this economic indicator with new welfare paradigms.” MORE