Study: Healthy biodiversity key to sustainable economy
By Anne Eckstein | Friday 13 November 2009
Nature provides numerous services for free, like water regulation, flood protection and carbon storage. But growing pressure on ecosystems is putting a lot of these services at risk and while technological solutions can replace some of them, the cost is generally high. However, investing in biodiversity can prove very cost-effective, as shown by a study on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB - ‘The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity’
(1)), presented in Brussels on 13 November.
“The findings of this TEEB report are clear: the failure to protect nature is often a consequence of our failure to understand its value,” said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, speaking at the presentation of the TEEB report. “We will not succeed in mitigating or adapting to climate change if we do not protect valuable ecosystems, and we will not manage to halt biodiversity loss if we fail to prevent dangerous levels of climate change,” the commissioner warned.
Policy makers face two big challenges, according to the TEEB report. The first is to understand the values of ecosystems, biodiversity and natural resources and to integrate them into the decision making process across all policy areas and at all levels – local, national and global. The second is to respond efficiently, with tailored policies, to the needs of different economies and societies. A core part of any long-term solution is a better understanding and better evaluation of the value of biodiversity and ecosystems to develop integrated strategic analyses.
According to the report, nature supports a wide range of economic sectors and increases the options for long-term growth. It can provide vital services, such as fresh water and climate regulation, at a price that is often cheaper than investing in solutions. Protected areas are not only good for nature, but they can also generate significant benefits. In Scotland, it is estimated that the public benefits of protecting the Natura 2000 network (the European network of protected areas) are three times greater than the corresponding costs.
The report emphasises the particularly efficient and cost-effective role that nature and functioning ecosystems can play in fighting climate change. In this respect, TEEB insists on the need for agreement in Copenhagen on financing action to reduce carbon dioxide (CO
2) emissions from deforestation and degradation in tropical countries (through the ‘REDD’ mechanism). Deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for around 20% of global CO
2 emissions, in other words more than all forms of transport combined.
Investing in biodiversity can prove very cost-effective, as shown by a study on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity
The TEEB study was launched by Germany and the European Commission in response to a proposal by environment ministers of the G8+5 (when they met in Potsdam, Germany, in 2007) for an independent global study on the economic repercussions of biodiversity loss. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the project received financial support from the European Commission, Germany and the United Kingdom, joined more recently by Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.(1) The report is available at www.europolitics.info > Search = 260680