The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review: Review: The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review, Partha Dasgupta. HM Treasury, London (2021)., ISBN: 978-1-911680-29-1 (Partha Dasgupta)

Publication: Scientific journalOther contribution to journal


Over the course of twenty one chapters (602 pages) Dasgupta, aided
by various background ‘contributors’, moves from outlining ecological
crises to reducing Nature to capital, ecosystems to stocks and biodiversity
to a sub-class of wealth-contributing financial assets. The theoretical
base is textbook (neoclassical) economic foundationalism, using
axiomatic deductive mathematical optimisation models to claim economists
know how to allocate resources efficiently. Along the way, strong
uncertainty (ignorance and indeterminacy) is reduced to weak probabilistic
risk, and all that is qualitative becomes quantitative. Despite its
length, and claim to be a ‘review’, there is much missing. For example,
Chapter 12 covers the core issue of valuing biodiversity in just twentyone
pages (3.5% of the report), eight of which are an ‘annex’ uncritically
presenting a case study. The literature included on biodiversity
economics is appallingly thin and biased, there is an absence of critical
reflection on mainstream economic theory, models and their assumptions,
as well as nothing addressing the serious limitations and inadequacies
of monetary valuation methods and social cost-benefit
analysis which are central to the whole approach. The Review lacks
critical reflection on how such economic reasoning has contributed to
the extinction crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 2
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue numberDec
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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