Siobhan McQuaid of Trinity College Dublin spoke at Future Human 2022 about the benefits of a nature-based economy – and the steps needed to get there.

The key to creating a nature-based economy is looking at nature as a solution to problems rather than an issue. That’s according Siobhan McQuaid, principal investigator of the Connecting Nature project led by Trinity College Dublin.

McQuaid told the audience at Future Human 2022 that the nature-based economy is a new concept that involves a “paradigm shift” in thinking about economic development and the type of economy we want in the future.

In a fireside chat with Silicon Republic editor Elaine Burke, McQuaid stressed that the idea of having nature-based enterprises is not mutually exclusive with economic growth, but the scaling models are different as these enterprises put biodiversity issues first.

“It’s a different model, but it’s one that presents many opportunities,” she said. “It’s not incompatible, but it is a different priority.”

Connecting Nature is an €11.4m five-year project funded by the EU, involving 30 partners across 16 European countries plus hubs in Brazil, China, Korea and the Caucasus.

McQuaid spoke about countries that are doing well in focusing on a nature-based economy, such as Austria and Germany. But Ireland appears to be falling behind in this area, she said, as the Government is still focused on traditional economic parameters such as how fast a business can scale and develop.


Words by Leigh Mc Gowran