We can no longer ignore nature in our political and economic decision-making

We can no longer ignore nature in our political and economic decision-making

Now is the time to put nature at the centre of decision-making, for the sake of our civilization. In a special edition of the Royal Society’s journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, considers the importance of nature in making decisions.

In a preface to a special feature in the journal, co-written with Prof Gretchen C. Daily, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, Professor Malhi said:

“The value and importance of the natural world is not sufficiently accounted for in economic or other decision-making processes, and bringing nature into decision-making provides the potential for a systemic solution to this challenge.

“There is powerful evidence and growing recognition that this decline matters – not only because of the intrinsic value of Earth’s biodiversity, but also because the degradation of the web of life threatens human well-being today, social and economic progress, and even the future of our civilisation.”

Professors Malhi and Daily say recent developments and statements have raised awareness of the biodiversity crisis, resulting in high-level calls to “bend the curve” of biodiversity loss within a decade, and to create nature-positive economies and businesses. New policy impetus has come from the adoption of the 2022 Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework, as well as a flurry of new nature-focused legislation at supernational, national, and city levels.

How exactly this can be achieved at scale and across sectors remains a major challenge. However, there has been substantial progress in developing successful demonstrations of integrating nature into decision-making in a variety of sectors and regions.

This special feature examines some of the greatest challenges and most promising solutions for bringing nature into decision-making at scale. Solutions include:

  • Assigning values to nature which are then embedded in key environmental policy instruments: protected areas for nature and payments for ecosystem services.
  • Highlighting the pioneering approach in Costa Rica with a system giving value to standing forests which reversed deforestation.
  • The transnational corporations that are taking nature into account in their decision-making who all share similar critical success factors.
  • The development of national natural capital accounts to increase integration of the values of nature into decision-making.
  • Cities that have enhanced urban nature and reveal what lessons can be learned for replicating and scaling up models of success.
  • Children’s exposure to nature in the school environment showing enhanced benefits for children’s physical and mental health, focus at school, and nurturing of pro-nature attitudes.

The global intertwining between humanity and the biosphere, navigating human actions and societies within a global safe operating space.

Professor Malhi said:

“As a collection, these papers highlight the urgency of bringing nature into decision-making, and also demonstrate the real progress in application of data rich tools that facilitate such decision-making, while at the same time reminding us that there are deeper issuesi  around our relationship with the straining biosphere that need examination and remedying.”


Read the feature in full: Bringing nature into decision-making