The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity report, compiled by the UN, puts the economic penalty of damage to "natural capital" - such as forests, wetlands, grasslands and marine habitats - at between $2,000bn and $4,500bn a year. The report will be published on Wednesday at the 10th meeting of signatories to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
These costs are not considered when countries calculate their GDP, nor when companies compile accounts. This helps to perpetuate the destruction of habitats and species, the study's authors said.
Pavan Sukhdev, a former banker who led the study, said it had "documented not only the multi-trillion dollar importance to the global economy of the natural world, but the kinds of policy shifts and smart market mechanisms that can embed fresh thinking".
The good news was that "many communities and countries are already seeing the potential of incorporating the value of nature into decision-making".
Mr Sukhdev called for "a new era in which the value of nature's services is made visible and becomes an explicit part of policy and business decision-making".
The report cites examples of how damage to ecosystems causes economic penalties. Overfishing is costing $50bn a year in lost economic opportunities. The value of insect pollination globally was put at about €153bn ($211bn) in 2005, while coral reefs - nurseries for many fish species - were estimated to provide between $30bn and $172bn a year in economic benefits.
Safeguarding natural systems could lead to huge rewards, the authors said. New York had saved $6.5bn by investing in maintaining the natural watershed of the Catskill mountains, which helps to purify the city's drinking water. If the ecosystem was not adequately maintained, the only alternative would be an expensive man-made filtration plant.
At the meeting in Nagoya, Japan, governments also discussed ways to limit the global loss of biodiversity. Some countries are calling for tougher targets to halt the rapid extinction of species.