Destroying Biodiversity May Cost the World $2.7 Trillion a Year

The global economy could lose as much $2.7 trillion a year by 2030 if countries continue to destroy biodiversity, impacting wild pollination, food from fisheries and timber from forests.

That’s according to the World Bank, which warned that existing economic projections are too optimistic because they fail to take account of a decline in nature’s services that’s already happening. In a business-as-usual scenario, the world is set to lose about 46 million hectares (114 million acres) of natural land and fish stocks will continue to fall, it said in a report.

The findings come as China prepares to host the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity gathering in Kunming in October, where governments are likely to agree on a framework to support nature. The World Bank study said that so-called nature smart policies, which curb the conversion of natural land, could spur an increase in global real gross domestic product of $50 billion to $150 billion by the end of the decade.

“Preserving nature and maintaining its services are critical for economic growth,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement. “As countries seek to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important that economic development improves outcomes for nature.”

Some countries including the U.S. have agreed to protect 30% of the planet by 2030, which is known as the 30x30 plan. But achieving the goal would sill lead to the economy shrinking 0.1% compared with business as usual.

In a worst-case scenario, if the world reached a tipping point in which countries were unable to adapt to a shock to ecosystem services, the global economy would shrink by 2.3% a year, it said. The world economy contracted 3.3% last year due to the pandemic, the worst peacetime decline since the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said in April.

Developing economies would particularly suffer because they’re more reliant on raw materials and the goods and services provided by nature. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia would see real gross domestic product shrink by 9.7% annually and 6.5%, respectively, the World Bank said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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