A Global Modeling Tool for Nature's Contributions to People in Sustainable Development

In late 2020, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will convene nations to set new targets under the ‘Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.’ This framework will guide conservation action and investment for the next decade, including hundreds of millions of dollars invested in conservation by nearly 200 countries, and for the first time CBD targets will aim to explicitly integrate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, several other international policy windows are opening through 2020 to galvanize sustainable development, yet there is currently no agreed-upon, science-based approach to identifying the natural capital needed to support humanity and achieve the SDGs. We aim to provide the first ever global maps of ‘critical natural capital’, ecosystems providing benefits that are not easily replaced, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable people, building on recent advances in global modeling of ecosystem services, enhanced with new social data on human dependency, and synthesize these disparate indicators to inform global policy targets. As a global leader in sustainability, Costa Rica is well poised to lead an innovative international partnership to create new decision-support tools for sustainable development. Our Central Bank and Ministry of Environment and Energy is working with Stanford University to develop new platforms for Earth Observation data and ecosystem services modeling to enter into decision-making on natural resources through the SDGs, UN’s System of Environmental Economics Accounts, and the World Bank’s inclusive wealth accounting. To gain the broadest possible scientific and policy audience, we will serve and share these global maps of critical natural capital, the downscaled modeling efforts in Costa Rica and ultimately in other countries leading sustainability commitments, and the co-developed cloud computing tools for setting sustainable development strategy.