Partha S. Dasgupta is a preeminent economistand author of 23 books and nearly 300 articles. He is recognised for having developed economic theories and tools which measure the relationships between human and environmental well-being, poverty, population, economic growth and the state of natural resources.This has led to a re-evaluation of how governments and global organisations deal with poverty and measure wealth, in particular by taking account not just of measures of economic activity such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but also our use of and reliance on “natural capital” such as wildlife, forests, wetlands and fisheries.A trademark of his work has been making connections between the micro and the macro for a greater understanding of the two.
In the 1970s, Dasgupta’s work with Geoffrey Heal on the optimal depletion of non-renewable resources looked at resource depletion as a societal matter, loaded with ethical and inter-generational implications. Among the issues they explored was the set of conditions needed for a society to maintain rising per capita consumption despite relying on exhaustible resources. They also explored the role of innovation and the way that technical change, in addition to capital substitution, could alleviate the constraints imposed by essential resources being in finite supply. Dasgupta is admired for his intellectual work bridging the gap between environment and the human condition. Dasgupta’s efforts to bridge collaborations across the ecology and economics communities inspired in part the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Beginning in 2000, the Assessment was a large multi-year effort involving over 1300 scientists worldwide, conducted under the auspices of the United Nations with the objective to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and to establish the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their contributions to human well-being. Dasgupta served on the leadership team, with ecologists and economists co-chairing the working groups to cut across sectors and incorporate natural science and social science perspectives into global, sub-global, regional, national, basin and local evaluations of environment and society.
In 2015, Dasgupta produced the Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, a seminal, independent, global review on the economics of biodiversity The Review calls for changes in how we think, act and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world. Dasgupta argues that the species extinction crisis we face – of our own making – is undermining the “productivity, resilience and adaptability” of Nature.