Waking up to the loss of Biodiversity

Our world is threatened by the loss of biodiversity
From 18-29 October 2010, Nagoya, Japan, was host to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity. A new global plan to help protect the natural environment was set out and countries agreed to take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of habitats and species. A goal was set in order to ensure that by 2020 our natural environment is resilient and can continue to provide the essential services that we would otherwise take for granted.
During the negotiations, an independent study ‘the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity’ led by Pavan Sukhdev, supported by the United Nations environment programme, was published. The report has become more commonly known as TEEB. The TEEB report is an international assessment showcasing the economic value of forests, freshwater, soils and coral reefs, as well as the social and economic costs of their loss. For example, reducing greenhouse gas emission through avoided deforestation is valued at US$3.7 trillion if deforestation rates halved by 2030. Improvements leading to a more sustainable fishing industry were calculated to save $50 million annually. This report has been used to raise the profile of issues during, and since, Nagoya.
Key aims include:
• opening up communications about the impact of activities on nature, including accountability;
• placing values on natural capital;
• accounting for ecosystem services;
• for business to report on their impact on nature; and
• using the principle of ‘beneficiary pays’ to support ecosystem services.

The TEEB4me website gives information for consumers and individuals:
We’ve been consuming natural resources at an alarming rate.
The history of post-war economic growth has been one of unsustainable consumption. Our global ecological footprint has doubled over the last 40 years. To the point that, by some calculations, if the whole human population consumed at the same rate as the developed world, we would need 4-5 planet Earths just to keep up:
In the last 300 years, the global forest area has shrunk by approximately 40%
since 1900, the world has lost about 50% of its wetlands
some 20% of the world’s coral reefs have been effectively destroyed
in the past two decades, 35% of mangroves have disappeared
The effect of trends such as these is that approximately 60% of the Earth’s ecosystem services have been degraded in the last 50 years, with human impacts being the root cause.
Business-as-usual is not an option if we wish to safeguard our natural capital and the well-being of future generations. It’s time to Give the Earth a Hand.

The economics of Biodiversity and ecosystemsClimate Change issues document makes interesting reading as well.

The BBC has reported on these issues in January 2011:
Recognising the economic benefits of nature in 2011

The Economics of Happiness trailer
Economic redesign: ecological integrity, quality of life worldwide- and happiness! Featuring many TEEB supporters/colleagues, another take on the challenge to define true economic success & the indicators we need to pursue it.

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