Ouyang, Z., Song, C., Zheng, H., Polasky, S., Xiao, Y., Bateman, I.J., Liu, J., Ruckelshaus, M., Shi, F., Xiao, Y., Xu, W., Zou, Z. and Daily, G.C. (2020) Using Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP) to Value Nature in Decision-Making, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 201911439; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1911439117
To achieve sustainable development, there is a pressing need to move beyond conventional economic measures like gross domestic product (GDP). We develop gross ecosystem product (GEP), a measure that summarizes the value of the contributions of nature to economic activity. We illustrate the calculation of GEP in Qinghai Province, China, to show that the approach is tractable both across China and globally. Known as the water tower of Asia, Qinghai is the source of the Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow Rivers and nearly two-thirds of GEP derives from water-related values. GEP was greater than GDP in Qinghai in 2000, and was three-fourths as large as GDP in 2015. China is using GEP to guide investments in ecosystem conservation and restoration.