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Towards a multidimensional biodiversity index for national application


The lack of urgent action to reverse biodiversity loss is partly due to the complex nature of biodiversity as a feature of our planet. Subsequently, policymakers receive an often-confusing variety of narratives on why biodiversity matters, which makes it difficult to link biodiversity loss and risks to the attainment of sustainable development. Making this link clearer calls for a multidimensional perspective on biodiversity to reassess what we value, facilitate mainstreaming and support national decision-making. We propose a co-produced Multidimensional Biodiversity Index to connect biodiversity science to the political agenda that accounts for the diversity of values underpinning nature–human relationships.

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Fig. 1: Conceptualization of biodiversity health.
Fig. 2: Proposed core MBI and nested structure.
Fig. 3: Roadmap to operationalize an MBI on biodiversity health.


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We would like to dedicate this work to the fond memory of our colleague Georgina Mace, who provided essential intellectual input for this work and who continues to be a great inspiration for all of us on fighting the biodiversity loss crisis. We thank the Luc Hoffmann Institute for supporting this project from its inception and the MAVA Foundation for its financial support. This work has benefited from discussions at a variety of international meetings linked to the CBD post-2020 process, and with conservation scientists, policymakers and practitioner colleagues around the world. We are grateful to J. Vause and we thank all organizations who nurtured this dialogue by participating in workshops organized in Cambridge, Zurich and Davos in 2019 and 2020 funded by the Luc Hoffmann Institute, the National Geographic Society, the Nature Map consortium (funded by the Norwegian government) and the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Author information




C.A.S.-N. developed the original idea with conceptual inputs from all authors, but especially from M.H. and S.L.L.H. C.A.S.-N. and N.D.B. led the writing of the manuscript with input on drafts from all authors. C.A.S.-N. generated all figures and all authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. A. Soto-Navarro.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Sustainability thanks Malgorzata Blicharska, Zuzana Harmáčková and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Soto-Navarro, C.A., Harfoot, M., Hill, S.L.L. et al. Towards a multidimensional biodiversity index for national application. Nat Sustain (2021).

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