We need to find better ways to evaluate the basis of our ecosystems if we want to create a truly green economy. And regional cooperation can facilitate that task, was the conclusion of a Rio+20 event on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity.
The recognition that natural capital is fundamental for our well-being suggests that sustainable use, protection and restoration of nature needs to play a key role in the development of more sustainable economies.
The Rio+20 conference debates how to boost the green economy. But the actual green foundation of our economies and whole livelihood, namely nature itself, is often forgotten in the discussions about growth and job creation.
The so called economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB) tries to put the green back into the discussions about a green economy, so to speak. And at Rio+20 a joint seminar held by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the TEEB-initiative under UNEP, the UN’s Environment programme, addressed the issue.
The event brought together a range of international experts and policymakers.
One of the main speakers, Pavan Sukhdev from GIST Advisory - among the world’s leading environmental consulting companies – made a clear case for the economic benefits involved.
- Restoring for instance fish stocks would be worth over 1.8 billion euro in the EU alone; or the equivalent of three times the value of the EU's annual fishing subsidies. Likewise, sustainable fisheries, forestry and farming provides many more jobs than conventional practices, pointed out Sukhdev, who is also study leader of the UNEP-TEEB project.
Yolanda Kakabadse, President of the WWF, underlined the need for regional cooperation:
- The Nordic countries and others have shown us that cooperation at the subregional level is crucial to achieve real results in terms of TEEB, she stated, adding that ecosystems know no political boundaries. Politicians cannot be expected to get the job done, so NGOs and businesses need to set the aganda more firmly, she conlcuded.
- Partnership matters and we expect that in the immediate follow up to Rio+20, at least 50 countries will declare that they are ready to start real natural capital accounting, seconded Rachel Kyte from the World Bank.
Greenland is a part of the Nordic region that has very special climatic conditions and is very vulnerable in terms of biodiversity.
- As policy makers it is our task to run society in a responsible way, taking into consideration all elements of sustainable development, said Greenlandic Finance Minister Malina Abelsen in her speech, pointing out the benefits of Nordic cooperation to Greenland's move in a sustainable direction.
- In a green economy, growth and sustainable use of natural resources go hand in hand. Investing in and caring for our natural capital is necessary in order to picture a future also for generations to come, she said, underlining in particular the great importance of the vulnerable marine resources for the Greenlandic economy.
- I look forward to the further work for TEEB that will help decision makers to build sustainable policies together with the public to ensure that the Arctic environment and cultures remain strong and resilient in a changing world, she ended.
The seminar was part of the programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers at Rio+20. This includes three seminars and one official side event, plus a stand at the official exhibition space connected to the conference,
Read more at norden.org/rio+20, including a blog with articles from high ranking politicians to opinion makers from the NGO and business community.
You can also follow the Nordic activities in Rio at www.facebook.com/sdnordic
The Terrestial Ecosystem Group under the Nordic Council of Ministers explains the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity in the following way:
Nature's capital - the ecosystems, genetic resources and species - is a foundation for a green, equitable and resilient economy. Nature underlines the very functioning of our socio-economic systems, creates a range of business opportunities and provides cost-effective solutions for different sectors.
The recognition that natural capital is fundamental for our well-being and should be appreciated for its many values suggests that sustainable use, protection and restoration of nature needs to play a key role in the development of more sustainable economies.
Consequently, while the transition to a green economy will take different paths for different countries, depending on country's natural assets, economy and society, and priorities - natural capital can be a key driver in this transition.
Read more at www.teebweb.org, including information on the Nordic TEEB project.