Evaluating Social Impact at the Grassroots

Published in India Development Review

Jun 19, 2024

Development models often overlook natural capital and focus solely on economic shifts. But what could measuring the liveability of a place tell us?

recent report produced by Sir Partha Dasgupta for the UK government highlights the fundamental link between nature, economic prosperity, and human well-being. Simply put, ecology and economy don’t have an antagonistic relationship. Natural capital—the air we breathe, the water we drink or use to irrigate farms, the soil on which crops are sown—is the bedrock on which the entire economy is built. If we lose that, forget economic growth or the share market, the very existence of humans on earth is under threat.

Human activities have significantly contributed to the degradation of biodiversity, land, and water. And Sir Partha’s report suggests that most countries would have negative GDP growth if the depletion of natural capital was fully considered. The fundamental challenge with prevailing economic models is that they place too low a value on natural capital and thus undervalue it, which happens because we don’t quantify the ‘free’ services nature provides us. 


Uthara Narayanan, Veena Srinivasan, Vikas Hosoor for India Development Review. 

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