News - 8 January 2011

en - UN Convention on Biodiversity, Nagoya Japan October 2010

The world’s forests, wetlands, coral reefs and other precious ecosystems and the rich biodiversity they harbour provide trillions of dollars worth of benefits each year. They feed and clothe us, control floods and pollinate crops. it is our shared natural capital.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Historic New Treaty Lays Out Ground Rules for Sharing Benefits of World’s Wealth of Genetic Resources

Nagoya 2010: Report puts economic value of nature on the global political radar

Nagoya, Japan, 20 October 2010 The economic importance of the world’s natural assets is now firmly on the political radar as a result of an international assessment showcasing the enormous economic value of forests, freshwater, soils and coral reefs, as well as the social and economic costs of their loss, was the conclusion of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report launched today by TEEB study leader, Pavan Sukhdev.

TEEB has documented not only the multi-trillion dollar importance to the global economy of the natural world, but the kinds of policy-shifts and smart market mechanisms that can embed fresh thinking in a world beset by a rising raft of multiple challenges. The good news is that many communities and countries are already seeing the potential of incorporating the value of nature into decision-making, said Mr. Sukhdev, a banker who heads up the Green Economy Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"This perhaps is the ultimate litmus test with natural capital given equal standing with human and financial capital. Indeed history may show that this may be the real success and legacy of 2010 and of the Nagoya meeting," he added.

"Nagoya has certainly set new benchmarks upon which the nations of the world will be judged by their citizens. This time round these targets need to be an inspirational and drivers of fundamental change towards a sustainable, Green Economy for the many and not just the few," said Mr. Steiner.

-After close to 20 years of discussion and debate, governments from across the globe today agreed to a new treaty to manage the world’s economically-central genetic resources in a far fairer and more systematic way.

The approval, to establish an International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources (ABS), came on the last day of the convention on biological diversity meeting taking place in Nagoya, Japan.

The Protocol also says governments should begin considering ways of recompensing developing countries for genetic material that may have been collected years, decades even centuries ago- if in future they become used to produce say a new pharmaceutical or crop variety.

The treaty, a Protocol to the main convention, lays down basic ground rules on how nations cooperate in obtaining genetic resources from animals to plants and fungi.

It also outlines how the benefits, arising for example when a plant’s genetics are turned into a commercial product such as a pharmaceutical, are shared with the countries and communities who have conserved and managed that resource often for millennia.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which administers the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), said: "This is a day to celebrate in terms of a new and innovative response to the alarming loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. And a day to celebrate in terms of opportunities for lives and livelihoods in terms of overcoming poverty and delivering sustainable development".