Replanting mangrove trees in Kampung Pasir Putih, Kuching, Sarawak. Mangroves are important fish breeding grounds and coastline buffers but these services are not accounted for in monetary value.
mining, retailing, construction and energy generation were uppermost in the minds of economic planners and ministers of finance, development and trade. TEEB has brought to the world’s attention that nature’s goods and services are equal, if not far more central, to the wealth of nations including the poor ... a fact that will be increasingly the case on a planet of finite resources with a population set to rise to nine billion people by 2050,” said Achim Steiner, UN undersecretary general and UNEP executive director. The TEEB report said the impacts of not giving economic values to ecosystems was most widely felt in the developing world. This could be commonly seen when forests were logged, with the economic value placed only on the trees and not the other immense benefits that the ecosystem provided. Among the benefits are that forests act as water catchments, provide habitats for valuable plants and animals, and store carbon so that it is not released into the atmosphere. Continuing to log forests at current rates until 2050 would lead to natural capital losses of US$2trillion to US$4.5trillion (RM6.4trillion to RM14.4trillion) annually, according to TEEB. With more than half of the human population now living in urban areas, cities have a crucial role to play in acknowledging the natural capital required to maintain and improve the well-being of their residents. Innovative economic instruments and policies are emerging that reward good practice. For example, the Japanese city of Nagoya (host to the UN meeting on biodiversity), has implemented a new system of tradeable development rights whereby developers wishing to exceed existing limits on highrise buildings can offset their impacts by buying and conserving areas of Japan’s traditional agricultural landscape. Discounts on bank loans for buildings that receive a higher “star rating” based on a green certification system designed by city authorities also create incentives for more green space within city projects. The good news is that many communities and countries are already seeing the potential of incorporating the value of nature into decision-making. Sukhdev said that India, Brazil and some other developing countries had already committed to placing values on their natural capital. Countries such as India have already announced plans for implementing the economic valuation of their natural capital as well as the value of nature’s services in decision-making. – AFP/UNEP