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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  March 2015  /  Is economic growth compatible with biodiversity conservation?

Is economic growth compatible with biodiversity conservation?

Andrew co-organizes debate at London Zoo

Is economic growth compatible with biodiversity conservation?

On Tuesday 10 March, a debate was co-organised at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) by ZSL/UCL Geography postgrad Andrew Jacobson and the Society’s head of Conservation Programmes, Professor Jonathan Baillie, on the compatibility of economic growth and biodiversity conservation. The event featured investment strategist Mustafa Zaidi (Clarmond), and Associate Editor of The Economist, Emma Duncan.

Speaking to a packed house, Mustafa Zaidi argued that the rise in credit and cheap energy are the primary drivers in the biodiversity crisis. From a historical point of view, we are in the 5th iteration of an international monetary system, an era of cheap credit. Credit is an amplifier of consumption and, partnered with cheap fossil fuels, is fundamentally responsible for burgeoning consumption rates. The impact on the environment is derived from a combination of population and consumption growth.

Meanwhile, Emma Duncan argued that growth is good and necessary to alleviate pressure on biodiversity resources, at least in part by sparking a change in values. Economic growth has additionally driven a decline in human population growth rates, which is also beneficial for the environment.

Although the international monetary system is likely to evolve further, and our energy mix is rapidly changing, neither speaker provided much hope that the financial system would change in time to avert the ongoing 6th great extinction event.

The debate was hosted as one of ZSL's science and conservation events - free, public events held monthly throughout the year.

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Andrew Jacobson


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