Attenborough fronts economics of biodiversity review

Sir David Attenborough has been announced as the ambassador of a Treasury review into the economic benefits of biodiversity and the costs and risks linked to its continued decline.

The review was commissioned by the Treasury in March and formally launched last month.  It will examine how nature supports economic growth, the implications of continued biodiversity loss and how it combines with other forms of environmental degradation, including climate change. It will also ask whether existing national and international actions are working. 

Attenborough’s role was unveiled yesterday by the chancellor of the exchequer, Sajid Javid, who said he was delighted the wildlife broadcaster agreed to the ambassador post. 

The review itself is being led by professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, who will report on the findings ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China in October 2020. The evidence will help shape the international and UK response to biodiversity loss and inform the targets that will replace the Aichi Biodiversity 2020 targets, according to the Treasury. 

The UK is currently set to miss 14 of the existing Aichi targets. 

Separately, academics from the universities of Oxford, Newcastle, Kent and Bangor, published a paper yesterday in People and Nature, showing how four of the last wildlife documentaries narrated by Attenborough failed to demonstrate to audiences the true extent human behaviours are having on the natural world.

By coding the scripts of three recent BBC nature documentaries and the Netflix series Our Planet, researchers showed the narrative of a “pristine natural environment” dominated the discussions. Our Planet gave the most focus to man-made effects on the environment with 15% of the total word count focused “on what is not well with the natural world,” according to the paper.

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