Pulpwood ready to make wood pulp for paper production: forests are increasingly acknowledged to be of enormous economic value to society and has contributed to place biodiversity management on the high end of the political agenda. Photo: J. Lokrantz/Azote

Firmly on the political radar

New TEEB report gives boost to natural resources assessments.

- The 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.
This is the conclusion of the final The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report entitled Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature which was launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity's 10th Conference of Parties meeting (CBD COP10) in Nagoya.
- 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 Pavan Sukhdev, study leader of TEEB.
Enormous economic value
The report, which is the end result of a two-year study involving centre researcher Thomas Elmqvist, is in line with similar centre research on how ecosystems can be included in wealth measurements.
The report calls for wider recognition of nature's contribution to human livelihoods, health, security, and culture by decision-makers at all levels (local to national and business to citizens).
Cities crucial
India has already announced plans for implementing the economic valuation of their natural capital as well as the value of nature´s services in decision-making.

However, the report also highlights the importance cities have in acknowledging the natural capital required to maintain and improve the well-being of their residents. Innovative economic instruments and policies are emerging that reward good practice.

For example, the Japanese city of Nagoya (host to the COP-10 meeting), has implemented a new system of tradeable development rights whereby developers wishing to exceed existing limits on high-rise buildings can offset their impacts by buying and conserving areas of Japan´s traditional agricultural landscape.
The report also drives home the message that failure of business to account for the value of natural capital, particularly in sectors such as mining, can pose significant business and social risks.

Estimations have revealed that the negative impacts, or ‘environmental externalities´, of the world's top 3,000 listed companies totals around US$ 2.2 trillion annually.

Download the report here

See TEEB presentation by Pavan Sukhdev at the City Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya 2010:

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