Australians love nature. Nature conjures up positive emotions in nearly all Australians, and the majority feel deeply connected to nature in this country. But do we understand just how much we depend on nature or how closely our economic prosperity is tied to the state of our fragile environment?

What did the report find?

  • Roughly half of Australia’s GDP (49% or $896bn) has a moderate to very high direct dependence on nature.
  • Sectors with a very high direct dependence on nature, such as primary industries like agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food product manufacturing, construction and waste and water services generate $293.6bn per year, approximately 15.9% of Australia’s GDP.
  • Sectors with a moderate to high direct dependency on nature, such as mining, real estate, transport and logistics, accommodation and hospitality, contribute $602.7bn to Australia’s economy, or approximately 33.1% of GDP.
  • Sectors that have a high or very high direct dependency on nature are responsible for more than three quarters of Australia’s export earnings, with resources currently accounting for 68.7% of Australia’s export share and agricultural exports another 11.3%.
  • Each Australian state and territory has a different relative direct dependence on nature, with Western Australia’s economy at the greatest risk from nature destruction with 66.95% of gross value added having a moderate to very high direct dependence on nature. The Northern Territory and Queensland follow with 55% and 53.8% directly dependent on nature.
  • Indirectly, there is not a dollar that doesn’t depend on nature. Sectors with a lower direct dependency score still depend upon nature through their value chains, and every worker and consumer needs clean air and water, sustenance, their health and a stable climate.

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Nature destruction creates risks that have societal and economy-wide effects. The recent food price spikes caused by drought and floods are an example of economic impacts when we fail to protect nature.

This report highlights the need for Australians to better understand the link between nature and the economy for wellbeing and future prosperity. Nature is in trouble, which spells bad news for the economy if we don’t reverse nature destruction and halt the extinction crisis.

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What does the report call for?

We must reverse the destruction of nature and put her on a path to recovery which includes more and better protected areas, funding for restoration and species recovery, embedding nature in decision making and transitioning to production and consumption patterns that protect nature, not exploit it.

The report recommends:

  • Businesses should begin to assess, disclose and reduce their exposure to nature-related risks and shift away from activities that destroy nature toward practices that restore it. 
  • Governments need to introduce strong laws that protect nature, set targets and embed nature in decision-making and invest in restoring Australia’s ecosystems.
  • Finance ministers, treasuries, and central banks – just like corporations and financial institutions – have a responsibility to assess nature-related impacts and dependencies of national economies, model scenarios, and take action to embed nature into budgets and regulation with the view to achieving sustainable Nature Positive economies.
  • Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese must show up and play a leading role at negotiations this year to deliver a Paris-style goal for nature at COP15 that will halt and reverse nature destruction.

More detail on nature dependencies within industries/sectors and state-by-state breakdowns, along with further recommendations and information about the nature crisis can be found within the report here. 

This research was supported by climate change investment and advisory firm Pollination and ethical investment manager Australian Ethical and incorporates modelling by IDEEA Group.  

Nathaniel Pelle

Business and Biodiversity Campaign Lead