This October TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) will launch a final report at the CBD COP 10 in Nagoya Japan, illustrating new economic approaches to biodiversity conservation by taking examples from forests, mining and cities.
TEEB is a global study initiated by the G8 and five major developing countries assessing “the global economic benefit of biological diversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the failure to take protective measures versus the costs of effective conservation”. This mandate was given to TEEB by the Postdam initiative launched in 2007, and reiterated by governments in 2008 and 2009.
By providing better information about the costs and benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services, TEEB can help government and business leaders make better choices to mitigate their impacts and restore natural services. There is now little penalty for damaging biodiversity and little reward for conserving it. Behaviour change can only happen when people see the real value of biodiversity. And change has become an imperative. It will be very hard to adapt to the loss of species, - for instance the disappearance of pollinators-, for which there is no possible replacement.
The responsibility falls into all sectors of society, from the public to private sector, from local citizens to global organizations. TEEB has produced useful tools for various sectors, including a report for business published under the leadership of IUCN (http://teebweb.org ). The study makes the business case for biodiversity conservation, showing evidence of win-win opportunities for nature and business, highlighting best practices from companies like Rio Tinto or Holcim. Governments need to put in place the right economic incentives for change, levelling the playing field with effective regulations, taxes and subsidies. But companies can also play a leading role by adopting a voluntary proactive approach to biodiversity conservation, reporting on their impacts, taking actions, accounting for their results and adopting new certification and labelling schemes for the products and services they buy or sell. Companies will see their efforts rewarded by the growing consumer demands for ethical and ecological products.
TEEB has become an incredibly valuable platform of more than 1000 researchers and stakeholders from around the world. Being hosted by UNEP, sponsored by governments but also supported by academia and private partners, TEEB is bringing together the best experts working on ecosystems and biodiversity. By recognizing not only the added value of TEEB but also the great potential of engaging business, governments could give a real boost to biodiversity conservation.