Building Back Better: Natural Capital Accounting for a Green Recovery

Top global experts discuss why it’s time to move beyond GDP and value nature for its worth.

Around the world, economic statistics tell a story of 100 years of progress. But they conceal a parallel story of mounting environmental pressures – climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss – that undermine it. By omitting one of humanity’s greatest assets – nature – these statistics ultimately slow progress towards a sustainable, resilient future.

As economies begin their recovery from the COVID-19  pandemic, we need to build back better by moving beyond GDP towards a system that recognizes all of society’s assets – natural, human, social, and institutional, harnesses their interdependencies, and delivers the 2030 Agenda.

This webinar, co-hosted by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, brings together world-leading experts to discuss how natural capital accounting can help in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution (responsible for over five million deaths a year).

Panelists will discuss the economic rationale for placing nature at the heart of the recovery from COVID-19, highlighting a global UN-led effort to develop new statistics that reveal, rather than conceal, the impacts and dependencies of economies on nature. The resulting System of Environmental Economic Accounts - Ecosystem Accounting is expected to be adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 2021, providing high-quality, rigorous data on biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment-economy nexus.

Confirmed speakers include:

Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany

Professor Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge

Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Cambridge

Elliott Harris, United Nations Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs

Bert Kroese, Deputy Director General, Statistics Netherlands and Chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting

Stefan Schweinfest, Director, United Nations Statistics Division

and Monica Contestabile, Editor in Chief, Nature Sustainability, as moderator of the event.

Attendees will gain a ‘first look’ into a series of landmark reports being launched for the webinar, and in the weeks to follow. These include:

  1. How Natural Capital Accounting Contributes to Integrated Policies for Sustainability and associated reports (United Nations, 2020); and
  2. Building Forward: Investments in a Resilient Recovery (Agarwala, et al 2020).
  3. The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity (HM Treasury, 2020).

Register here:


Video recording


Date and time

15 December, 2020

9:30-10:30 AM EST


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