A UN study high­lights the price of na­ture.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT -

THE global econ­omy must be rad­i­cally al­tered to put a value on forests, reefs and other el­e­ments of na­ture. The fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits of do­ing so will be enor­mous, ac­cord­ing to a United Na­tions-backed re­port. The Eco­nom­ics of Ecosys­tems and Bio­di­ver­sity (TEEB) re­port warned that al­low­ing na­ture to re­main un­ac­counted for within the econ­omy would lead to the con­tin­u­ing rapid ex­tinc­tion of species, and en­su­ing mas­sive fi­nan­cial costs. “TEEB’s ap­proach can re­set the eco­nomic com­pass and her­ald a new era in which the value of na­ture’s ser­vices is made vis­i­ble and be­comes an ex­plicit part of pol­icy and busi­ness de­ci­sion-mak­ing,” said banker Pa­van Sukhdev, who chaired a study that led to the re­port. Af­ter nearly three years of re­search, the re­port aims to raise global aware­ness about the eco­nomic costs of in­ac­tion on bio­di­ver­sity in a sim­i­lar way to Bri­tish econ­o­mist Ni­cholas Stern’s fa­mous 2006 re­port on cli­mate change. The TEEB re­port was re­leased on Wed­nes­day in Nagoya, Ja­pan, where del­e­gates from 193 coun­tries are meet­ing at a UN sum­mit in an ef­fort to map out a strat­egy to stop hu­mans from driv­ing species to ex­tinc­tion. “We hope the next phase af­ter Nagoya ... is go­ing to be a change in pol­icy, a change in the ma­trix, a change in con­sumer be­hav­iour, a change in busi­ness be­hav­iour. Do noth­ing, and not only do we lose tril­lions worth of cur­rent and fu­ture ben­e­fits to so­ci­ety, we also fur­ther im­pov­er­ish the poor and put fu­ture gen­er­a­tions at risk. “The time for ig­nor­ing bio­di­ver­sity and per­sist­ing with con­ven­tional think­ing re­gard­ing wealth cre­ation and devel­op­ment is over. We must get onto the path to­wards a green econ­omy,” said Sukhdev. The re­port high­lighted the broad scope of so-called “ecosys­tem ser­vices” that are gen­er­ally not val­ued in the econ­omy. These in­cluded reg­u­la­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment – such as through wa­ter fil­tra­tion by wet­lands, pol­li­na­tion and dis­as­ter pro­tec­tion – and as a source of medicines and wild foods. Spir­i­tual and recre­ational val­ues, as well as the en­vi­ron­ment’s role in nutri­ent re­cy­cling and pho­to­syn­the­sis, also needed to be taken into ac­count, the re­port urged. TEEB rec­om­mended that busi­nesses and gov­ern­ments re­veal in an­nual re­ports or na­tional ac­counts how they de­pleted or dam­aged the en­vi­ron­ment. This de­ple­tion or dam­age would have an eco­nomic value, and busi­nesses would need to com­pen­sate for their ad­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. The TEEB re­ported cited a study by Bri­tain-based con­sul­tancy Tru­Cost that found the neg­a­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of the world’s top 3,000 listed com­pa­nies were worth US$2.2tril­lion (RM7tril­lion) an­nu­ally.

Ef­fect on the poor

Many stud­ies also found forests and other ecosys­tems to con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the liveli­hoods of poor ru­ral house­holds. Con­ser­va­tion of these ecosys­tems, there­fore, will help al­le­vi­ate poverty. It has been es­ti­mated that ecosys­tem ser­vices and other non-mar­keted nat­u­ral goods ac­count for 47% to 89% of the so-called “GDP of the Poor” (the ef­fec­tive GDP or to­tal sources of liveli­hoods of ru­ral and for­est-dwelling poor house­holds) in some large de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. “In the past only tra­di­tional sec­tors such as man­u­fac­tur­ing,

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