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Dutch society causes nearly 40 billion euros in damage to biodiversity

Research of ABN Amro and Impact Institute show that the Dutch society causes nearly 40 billion euros in damage to biodiversity

According to the recent report published by ABN AMRO, based on a cross-sector research by the Bank and Impact Institute, the Dutch economy is responsible for about 40 billion euros worth of damage to ecosystem services. The calculated damage corresponds to approximately 5 percent of the Dutch GDP in the year 2020, or just under 2300 euros per inhabitant.


Current production and consumption patterns in the Netherlands are responsible for almost 40 billion euros in damage to biodiversity – caused by unsustainable land use, GHG emissions, air, and water pollution – calling on radical steps to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature. The study carried out by Impact Institute and ABN AMRO includes the damage suffered by 65 industries through trade with 140 countries, as well as the use of 42 types of crops.


Impact institute logo

70% of the damage is hidden in the value chain.

According to the research, most of the calculated damage is hidden, not occurring in the Netherlands itself, but taking place abroad, through Dutch companies’ trading partners: cocoa and soy imports hide negative land use impact in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Brazil, respectively, and beef imports coincide with water pollution in Argentina.

In addition, while the food industry and agricultural sector jointly account for almost 25% of the damage, some other, less obvious, sectors are also responsible for the progressive weakening of ecosystem services. These sectors include, for example, financial services, which – although causing less damage per euro of volume – represent a significant portion of the Dutch economy. Specifically, by allocating capital to sectors and companies which deplete our ecosystems, financial institutions negatively affect biodiversity, and, in turn, are exposed to risks resulting from its loss.

The figure below shows the sectors causing the highest damage to biodiversity, with industry (5.3 billion in total damage), business services (5.3 billion), and agriculture (4.9 billion) dominating the top three places of the ranking.

Impact Biodiversiteit Nederland
Source: Impact Institute, ABN AMRO.

The government plays a crucial role.

Within this scenario, governments and legislation play a critical role in steering companies’ efforts towards reversing biodiversity loss. “A breakthrough is necessary, and it will succeed especially if companies are offered perspective. Just like the financial sector, the government plays an important role in this.” says ecologist Patrick Jansen of Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

The publication elaborates six recommendations, aimed both at businesses and global leaders:

  1. Recognize (hidden) damage to biodiversity
  2. Make biodiversity an integral part of business operations;
  3. Look for small profits, with a big effect;
  4. Increase knowledge and awareness about biodiversity;
  5. Calculate with ‘real’ prices;
  6. Take GDP growth off the pedestal, shift to broad prosperity.

About GID Biodiversity

GID Biodiversity is a quantitative biodiversity impact database, built on 10 years of experience in the field of impact measurement. It is used by organisations to understand, report and act on the impact of their portfolios. It integrates insights from a variety of data sources to allow users to identify biodiversity drivers at a high-level or to dive into specific portfolio constituents. The main benefits of GID biodiversity are:

  • Get global geographic and sector coverage
  • Look at upstream and downstream value chain segments
  • Value impact in monetary units
  • Avoid double counting

About ABN AMRO Bank

ABN AMRO is one of the largest banks in the Netherlands and it is one of the frontrunners in the financial sector on reporting on its value creation to society. In line with its purpose and strategy, ABN AMRO also published its very first Impact on Biodiversity report earlier this year. The bank used Impact Institute’s Global Impact Database to assess the impact of its portfolio on biodiversity in a transparent and measurable way.

Additional information on the organization can be found here.

More information

  • Our GID Biodiversity data solution estimates biodiversity impact and provides actionable insights. Get in touch to find out more.
  • Biodiversity Knowledge for professionals: read the guide.
  • Impact Education: Register for the course Measure and Manage Biodiversity Impact
  • ABN Amro Impact on Biodiversity. Read about the report.
  • For further information about the Global Impact Database, please visit our GID page. We offer verified and robust data, estimating impacts for organizations, countries, and sectors worldwide.

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