The central economic importance of the world's natural assets is now firmly on the political radar as a result of an international assessment showcasing the enormous economic value of forests, freshwater, soils and coral reefs, as well as the social and economic costs of their loss, the head of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) said today.
"TEEB has 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 in a world beset by a rising raft of multiple challenges,” says TEEB study leader Pavan Sukhdev, a banker who also heads up the Green Economy Initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “The good news is that many communities and countries are already seeing the potential of incorporating the value of nature into decision-making.”
He was speaking as the three-year TEEB study, which has involved hundreds of experts from around the world, launched its final report at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10th Conference of Parties meeting (CBD COP10) in Nagoya Japan. Evidence of the impact of the study is shown by countries including India and Brazil, announcing plans for implementation of economic valuation of their natural capital and the inclusion of the value of nature’s services in decision-making.
“Better accounting of business impacts on biodiversity – both positive and negative - is essential to spur change in business investment and operations. Smart business leaders realise that integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services in their value chains can generate substantial cost savings and new revenues, as well as improved business reputation and license to operate,” adds Joshua Bishop, the TEEB for Business report coordinator and Chief Economist of IUCN.
The TEEB study calls for wider recognition of nature’s contribution to human livelihoods, health, security and culture by decision makers at all levels (national and local policy makers, administrators, businesses and citizens). It promotes the demonstration and (where appropriate) the capture of the economic values of nature’s services through an array of policy instruments and mechanisms.
The study has reviewed and synthesised thousands of studies, methodologies, policy options and examples of action from around the world. Startling figures have emerged through this work. The TEEB interim report in 2008 calculated that in a ‘business as usual ‘ scenario, with deforestation continuing at present rates each year to 2050, we would lose between US$ 2 trillion - 4.5 trillion of natural capital per year. This number highlighted the scale of the problem if current practice is left unchecked. Over subsequent months TEEB teams have been working to identify solutions, and see how best the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity can be applied on the ground.
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