The search for a multidimensional biodiversity index

What could revolutionize the way biodiversity data is collected, synthesized, understood and acted on, the way that ‘2 degrees Celsius’ galvanised action on Climate Change?


In partnership with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), the Luc Hoffmann Institute is incubating the idea of transforming how biodiversity is integrated into decision-making globally through a multidimensional biodiversity index (MBI). Learning from the successes and failures of economic and poverty indices, the institute is bringing diverse voices together to lay the foundations for the concept and raise awareness of its potential.

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Explore the impacts


© WWF US Keith-Arnold

The world faces global disasters.

© Meridith Kohut WWF-US

For the first time, the notion of a multidimensional biodiversity index (MBI) emerges as an opportunity to better inform decision-making in the environmental sector.


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Luc Hoffmann Institute, UNEP-WCMC, and WWF convene diverse actors around the search for an MBI. Feedback following the convening indicates that the “single index” approach is feasible.

June 2019

“Some things are very difficult to count, but if we create an infrastructure for measuring biodiversity, then it begins to count for society and people start to see the impact.”

Pali Lehohla, former Statistician General of South Africa and Founder of the Pan-African Institute for Evidence at the convening on ‘Exploring a multidimensional biodiversity index’.

“This is going to be important in designing policy interventions that can affect the trend [in species depletion] and hopefully turn it back.”

Adriana Conconi, Executive Director, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the convening on ‘Exploring a multidimensional biodiversity index’.


The United Nations Environment Programme Statistical Division helps integrating the index in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reporting and considers becoming the index’s official custodian agency.


© Jim Woodson

Several governments volunteer to conduct pilot projects in their countries (Switzerland, South Africa, Vietnam, Mexico, Costa Rica); Several countries and foundations also indicate an interest in funding the development of an index.

February 2020

The Swiss Federal Department of Environment supports the development of the index for a three year project, and volunteers to have the concept tried in Switzerland.

Discussions begin with local actors, in Switzerland, Costa Rica, Viet Nam and Mexico on how to deliver pilot projects in countries to test the MBI.

August 2021

Research published in Nature Sustainability presents a co-produced Multidimensional Biodiversity Index to connect biodiversity science to the political agenda, accounting for the diversity of values underpinning nature–human relationships.

Towards a policy-smart and multidimensional biodiversity measure


Biodiversity health, and business and societal responses to it, can be measured and easily communicated, and resources are better allocated to regenerate biodiversity while ensuring human wellbeing.

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Related resources

Towards a policy-smart and multidimensional biodiversity measure
An August 2021 research paper published in Nature Sustainability, which presents a new MBI to connect biodiversity science to the political agenda.

Towards a multidimensional biodiversity index
A July 2019 video on the Multidimensional Biodiversity Index initiative. 

A measure to make biodiversity relevant 
A June 2019 thought piece by Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development (ad-interim), Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Disseminating the power of an index that would transform conservation efforts 
A March 2019 thought piece by Carolina Campos, Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC research associate; pursuing an MSc in Environmental Economics at the London School of Economics.

One for all or all for one? 
A November 2018 thought piece by Carolina Soto-Navarro, Postdoctoral scientist, Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC Science Programme.