In the next 30 years, the United States will see the losses of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) totaling $83 billion taken from its economy each year by 2050 if the world doesn’t act urgently to address the global environmental crisis. Japan and the UK follow behind the US, standing to lose a staggering amount of economic activity within their countries—$80 billion and $21 billion each year, respectively, in the same time frame. The projected economic losses in these three countries is due largely to the impact and expected damage to their coastal infrastructure and agricultural land through increased flooding and erosion—a result of losing natural coastal defenses like coral reefs and mangroves.
In a first-of-its-kind study, the Global Futures Report calculates the economic cost of nature’s decline across 140 countries using a new economic and environmental modeling technique to assess what the macroeconomic impact would be if the world didn’t act now to protect the planet. The method was created in partnership between WWF, the Global Trade Analysis Project, and the Natural Capital Project.
“It’s difficult for many people to conceptualize the true value of nature and the many benefits it provides to humanity,” said Rebecca Shaw, chief scientist, WWF-US. “This groundbreaking report translates nature loss into country-specific economic terms—a tangible and powerful way to galvanize action from private sector leaders and government officials.”
The Global Futures study predicts a global deficit in specific forms of nature loss but does not include all the different ways in which environmental degradation will affect global economies by 2050 including:
- $327 billion from damaged protections from flooding, storm surges and erosion due to changes in vegetation along coastlines and sea-level rises
- $128 billion from loss of carbon storage which protects against climate change
- $15 billion from lost habitats for bees and other pollinating insects
- $19 billion from reduced water availability for agriculture
- $7.5 billion from lost forests and forest ecosystem services