National treasure Sir David Attenborough has found another job for when he’s in-between presenting world-class nature documentaries. He’ll be acting as an ambassador for a new landmark UK study into biodiversity loss and its impact on the economy.
The 93-year-old's new role will be acting as the public face of the government-funded study and will involve promoting its findings around the world. The research will be led by Cambridge University professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, an expert in environmental economics.
Biodiversity is incredibly important in keeping our ecosystems alive and functioning. As the sixth mass extinction event continues around the world, the United Nations biodiversity chief Cristiana Pasca Palmer has previously warned that we need drastic interventions to stop wildlife – and eventually humans – from dying out.
“The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer,” she said in 2018. “It’s different from climate change, where people feel the impact in everyday life. With biodiversity, it is not so clear but by the time you feel what is happening, it may be too late.”
This new study will look at the benefits of biodiversity around the world and the economic costs and risks arising from the loss of natural habitats and wildlife. It will also include recommendations on how to protect biodiversity for future generations.
The research has received government funding and was commissioned by the Treasury under former Chancellor Philip Hammond, the Guardian reported. It is an attempt to demonstrate that the government and the UK is acting to protect the environment.
Current chancellor, Sajid Javid, said that the UK government was “determined to leave the environment in a better state than we found it for future generations.”
He added: “Protecting nature’s biodiversity has both environmental and economic benefits. That’s why we asked Professor Dasgupta to carry out the first review of its kind into this area and I’m delighted Sir David Attenborough has agreed to be an ambassador.”
Sir David’s nature documentaries, such as Our Planet which streamed on Netflix earlier this year, have been credited with helping to bring the reality of the climate crisis home to millions of viewers, though others say they don’t go far enough. Either way, he’s certainly an important public figure when it comes to making noise about this issue in the UK and around the world.
“In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined,” Attenborough said, ahead of a BBC documentary Climate Change: The Factswhich aired in April.
“We're running out of time but there's still hope… I believe that if we better understand the threat we face, the more likely it is that we can avoid such a catastrophic future,” he added.
Ahead of embarking on the research, Prof. Dasgupta said: “Biodiversity is at the heart of our way of life – therefore it is vital we preserve it for generations to come. By placing an economic value on the benefits of biodiversity we will be able to prevent its demise – which is a win-win for our future generations and economies.”