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Replacing GDP with Gross Ecosystem Product reveals value of nature - University of Exeter

Replacing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a new “ecosystem” measure reveals the enormous value of the natural world, new research shows.

GDP – widely used by decision-makers around the world – summarises the value of all goods and services bought and sold in a country during a specific period as a single figure.

But it takes no account of how nature contributes to economic activity and human wellbeing.

The new study, by an international team including the University of Exeter, calls this a “critical omission” and suggests a new way to measure that missing value of nature: “Gross Ecosystem Product” (GEP).

This new approach is demonstrated in action through a case study in China, where the government is working to develop and implement GEP as a comparable compliment to GDP.

“To achieve sustainable development, we need to move beyond conventional economic measures like GDP,” said Professor Ian Bateman, Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) which is in the Department of Economics at the University of Exeter Business School. “The global economy, as conventionally measured by GDP, more than doubled between 1990 and 2015. However, at the same time our stocks of ‘ecosystem assets’ – such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, fertile soils and biodiversity – have come under increasing pressure. These things are obviously valuable in many ways – including to human wellbeing. However, in this study we examine the benefits they bring us measured in a way that governments and business can understand.”

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