Economic and social development

All aspects of the global economy, from raw materials to manufacturing to trade depend on biodiversity and ecosystems which supply indispensable goods and services.

Natural infrastructure – ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs – provides a steady flow of benefits such as clean air and water, flood and drought protection and climate regulation.

Far from being a constraint to development, nature offers many accessible and cost-effective opportunities. 

  • Coastal wetlands in the United States provide an estimated US$ 23.2 billion a year in storm protection services.
  • The forests of China’s Miyun watershed generate benefits worth US$ 2 billion a year whilst supplying 70% of Beijing’s drinking water.

  • Fisheries and aquaculture are worth more than US$ 200 billion globally per year.

IUCN aims to ensure that biodiversity is properly taken into account in economic policy, financial systems, investment and markets. To achieve this, we join forces with governments and international policy fora such as the UN General Assembly and the World Economic Forum, as well as regional platforms including the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Working with companies, industry associations and consumer groups, we highlight the many benefits that protecting biodiversity and ecosystems can bring to both the public and private sector.



    IUCN-Marriott MOU signing and press conference in Bangkok, 19 September 2013

    IUCN and Marriott International join hands for community-based conservation and development in Thailand

    IUCN and Marriott International have launched a partnership to protect the environment and support Thailand’s local communities through mangrove restoration, the use of sustainable seafood sources and local procurement practices. …  

    19 Sep 2013 | News story

    Destruction left by tropical storm Stan in Mexico

    From risk to opportunity: reducing the risk of disasters the natural way

    Healthy ecosystems and sound environmental management can go a long way in protecting people from disasters. But this fact is not yet widely appreciated among the many parties responsible for reducing the risk of disasters and responding to them once they happen. …  

    19 May 2013 | News story

    Aluminium is in great demand for its unique qualities such as durability, strength and its ability to be recycled forever without loss of quality.

    Global brands and IUCN to set standard for aluminium sustainability

    Gland, Switzerland, 28 February 2013 – Audi, BMW Group, Hydro and Rexam join the IUCN-led Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, to develop a global standard for aluminium sustainability by the end of 2014. …  

    28 Feb 2013 | International news release

    Energy LI

    Energy utility RWE and IUCN join forces for nature

    Essen, Germany/Gland, Switzerland, 25 January 2013 – Today, Germany’s number one power producer RWE and IUCN signed a three-year agreement on biodiversity management at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The aim is to further integrate protection of biological diversity into the corporate business decisions of the company. …  

    25 Jan 2013 | International news release

    Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, near Beijing

    Restoring landscapes to support cities' growth

    The Chinese capital Beijing is a growing city – growing in terms of people, and the space it needs for them to live, grow food, and to support expanding industries. Provided with water from the Miyun reservoir, new approaches need to be developed to maintain sustainable supplies of water for Beijing. …  

    20 Oct 2012 | News story