The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)

By "ecosystem services" we commonly understand intact lands, food, fresh water, fuels and drugs, erosion prevention and soil fertility as well as climatic regulation and carbon storage. They are provided freely by nature and are deemed as indispensable for human well-being.

As part of its G8 presidency in 2007, Germany ordered, together with the EU commission, the study "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" (TEEB) in order to better evaluate the economic value of nature. The study was carried out under the patronage of the United Nations Environmental Programme and was directed by the economist Pavan Sukhdev.

Phase I of the study was an "Interim Report". This report shows that the value of ecosystem services for human well-being is noticeably higher than expected. For instance, the nearly 100,000 protected areas on earth generate a sales revenue of 4.4 to 5.2 million US dollars every year. This sum surpasses the revenue of the automobile and steel industries as well as the IT service sector put together.

In Phase II of the study a foundational report as well as case studies addressed at specific target groups were published. The foundational report clarifies fundamental connections between the economy and ecosystems, highlights the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem services, and shows their contribution to human well-being. The other reports address business and enterprises as well as policy makers at the national and international level. They provide analyses and guidelines (on the regional level case descriptions) that exhibit possible specific courses of action. The report for national leaders, for example, points out that the protection of ecosystems is a cost-effective way to mitigate the consequences of climate change. The report for business, on the other hand, encourages biodiversity management within corporate strategies, for example with help of the concept of "No Net Loss". The central findings of these reports were published in a TEEB Synthesis Report.

Last but not least, Phase III of the study, which was concluded in 2010, contained an in-depth analysis of specific sectors and biomes (the key concepts were: Oceans and Coasts, Water and Wetlands as well as the Arctic) and a provision of supporting material for further country-specific projects. The German project "Natural Capital Germany – TEEB DE" started in 2012. The goal of the project is to uncover the hidden value of biological diversity and ecosystem services (the value of the "Natural Capital") in Germany. In order to achieve this, targeted reports shall be drafted in workshops and a network of scientists, nature users, concerned parties and practical experts shall be created until 2017.

Information on the TEEB study: Online Version
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