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No. 160/10 | Berlin, 20.10.2010

Conservation of nature and its services crucial for prosperity and development

Final report of TEEB Study presented in Nagoya

The final report, Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature, is the synthesis of all previously published studies of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). The study uses examples of a natural ecosystem (forest), a human settlement (city) and a business sector (mining) to illustrate how economic concepts and instruments can help to incorporate the value of nature into decision making at all levels. The report was presented today on the margins of the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan. It includes innovative economic instruments and policy strategies.

Germany will make a further financial contribution until 2011 in order to support the communication and implementation of the study's results. In addition, ecosystem services in Germany itself are also being systematically surveyed and assessed in economic terms. Approaches to integrate the economic value of ecosystem services into national accounting are being reviewed, and recommendations drawn up on the application of economic instruments for the conservation of biodiversity. The use of positive incentives and the removal of negative ones, payments for ecosystem services and the application of the polluter pays principle through payment or compensation mechanisms are just some examples of such instruments.

At COP 10 the German delegation presented various examples of taking into account and paying for ecosystem services. For instance, the benefits of nature-oriented flood protection measures along the Elbe River, such as dyke relocation and the establishment of natural retention areas, exceed cost by a factor of three. This is the case if not only directly avoided damages from flooding are considered and evaluated, but any positive effect like the function of flood plains as habitat for flora and fauna, as a recreational areas for people or as a filter for harmful substances.

The city of Nagoya, which is hosting COP 10, introduced a new system for tradable development rights. 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. In Mexico, the introduction of a national forest PES-scheme (payments for ecosystem services) seven years ago has halved the annual rate of deforestation, protected water catchments and biodiverse cloud forests, and avoided emissions of about 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. It is crucial for cities to acknowledge ecosystem services and take them into account in decision making. This saves money, strengthens local and regional business, improves the well-being of residents, creates jobs and protects nature.

TEEB was initiated and financed by Germany and the European Commission at the suggestion of the G8 environment ministers in 2007 to investigate the economic value of biological diversity and the cost resulting from the destruction of nature. The study, carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was led by Pavan Sukhdev and involved hundreds of experts from around the world. A first interim report was presented at the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Bonn in May 2008. TEEB for Policy Makers was already published in November 2009, followed by TEEB for Business in July 2010 and TEEB for Local and Regional Policy Makers a few weeks later in September. A TEEB website for citizens was set up in time for the meeting in Japan.

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