21 July 2024
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Nature Degradation and Its Impact on UK GDP

Nature degradation is a pressing issue that could have significant economic consequences, as a new analysis suggests that the UK could face a 12% loss to its GDP due to the deterioration of its natural environment. To put this into perspective, the financial crisis of 2008 resulted in a 5% loss to the UK’s GDP, while the COVID-19 pandemic cost up to 11% of its GDP in 2020. This analysis, led by the GFI in collaboration with the University of Reading and various governmental and scientific entities, sheds light on the critical link between nature and the economy.

Professor Tom Oliver, a lead author of the report, emphasizes that nature is not a luxury but rather the foundation for a stable economy. The analysis highlights the interconnected nature-related risks such as soil health decline, antimicrobial resistance, and animal-borne diseases, all of which pose significant threats to the UK in the coming years. The report underscores the necessity for both domestic and international efforts to protect the environment and mitigate these risks.

Nature-Related Risks and Financial Implications

The analysis reveals that nature-related risks are just as detrimental to the economy as climate risks, yet they have not been adequately factored into financial decision-making. The UK, being one of the most nature-depleted countries, faces significant risks to its financial services and overall economy. The report indicates that half of the nature-related financial risks originate from overseas, underscoring the global nature of the issue.

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The inventory compiled within the analysis outlines various risks to the economy stemming from nature degradation, including soil health decline, water shortages, zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and transition and litigation risks. Sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and utilities are particularly vulnerable to these risks, which could impact production, energy prices, and financial institutions. The analysis estimates potential reductions in the value of domestic portfolios for banks, highlighting the financial impact of nature-related risks.

Opportunities for Action and Resilience

The findings present a crucial opportunity for governments, central banks, regulators, and the financial sector to proactively manage nature-related risks and position the UK as a global leader in addressing these challenges. Businesses that act early to improve resiliency, especially within their supply chains, stand to gain early-mover advantages. The report offers recommendations for both the public and private sectors, including disclosures of nature-related risks and meeting targets outlined in the Global Biodiversity Framework.

It is imperative for stakeholders to recognize the significance of nature-related risks and take swift action to protect the environment and ensure financial resilience. By incorporating nature-related risks into decision-making processes and implementing sustainable practices, the UK can pave the way for a more secure and prosperous future.


The analysis on the materiality of nature-related financial risks for the UK underscores the urgent need to address nature degradation and its potential impact on the economy. With nature degradation posing a substantial threat to GDP, it is essential for stakeholders across sectors to collaborate and take decisive action to mitigate these risks. By prioritizing environmental protection and sustainability, the UK can not only safeguard its economy but also lead the way in creating a more resilient and environmentally conscious future for generations to come.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.nationalgeographic.com 2. www.worldwildlife.org 3. www.greenpeace.org

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Nature degradation, UK GDP, Financial risks

Environmental degradation
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as quality of air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. The...
Read more: Environmental degradation

Economy of the United Kingdom
The economy of the United Kingdom is a highly developed social market economy. It is the sixth-largest national economy in the world measured by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), ninth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP), and twenty-first by nominal GDP per capita, constituting 3.1% of nominal world GDP. The United...
Read more: Economy of the United Kingdom

Financial risk
Financial risk is any of various types of risk associated with financing, including financial transactions that include company loans in risk of default. Often it is understood to include only downside risk, meaning the potential for financial loss and uncertainty about its extent. Modern portfolio theory initiated by Harry Markowitz...
Read more: Financial risk

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