Biodiversitet: Verdensbanken indleder globalt partnerskab med u-lande

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NAGOYA, Japan, 28 October 2010: The World Bank Thursday announced a new global partnership that will give developing countries the tools they need to integrate the economic benefits that ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs provide, into national accounting systems.

The goal is to introduce the practice of ecosystem valuation into national accounts at scale so that better management of natural environments becomes “business as usual”. Ten nations will take part in the pilot phase, including India and Colombia.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said environmental destruction happens partly because governments do not account for the value of nature. The partnership was launched at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Nagoya, Japan.

The new five-year World Bank pilot program, “Global Partnership for Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services Valuation and Wealth Accounting”, will give developing countries tools to help them measure the value and benefits of their ecosystems.

India’s Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma said at the launch the tools would make impact assessments more objective when looking at bids by miners or steelmakers to set up operations in India

Robert B. Zoellick said the alarming loss of biological diversity around the world can be partly attributed to the lack of proper value being placed on ecosystems and the services they provide. He said the new Partnership can provide the “missing information” on a country’s “natural capital” to guide leaders in decision-making.

“The natural wealth of nations should be a capital asset valued in combination with its financial capital, manufactured capital, and human capital,” said Zoellick. “National accounts need to reflect the vital carbon storage services that forests provide and the coastal protection values that come from coral reefs and mangroves.

“Through this new partnership, we plan to pilot ways to integrate ecosystem valuation into national accounts and then scale up what works to countries around the world.”

According to a forthcoming World Bank publication, “The Changing Wealth of Nations”, the economic value of farmland, forests, minerals and energy worldwide exceeds 44 trillion US dollar, with 29 trillion of that in developing countries. This value is primarily commercial, however.

Other value lies in the services ecosystems such as forests provide, including hydrology regulation, soil retention, and pollination – as a home to bees and other insects. Cutting down a forest for its timber may have negative consequences for other sectors of the economy, such as loss of agricultural productivity, loss of capacity for hydroelectric power, and loss of water quality.

The Global Partnership for Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services Valuation and Wealth Accounting builds on the United Nations Environment Programme project “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) which, last week, released its final report. Among other things, TEEB concluded that the “invisibility” of many of nature’s services to the economy results in widespread neglect of natural capital, leading to decisions that degrade ecosystem services and biodiversity.

The Partnership will include developed and developing countries, international organizations such as UNEP and conservation and development non-governmental organizations as well as the global organization for legislators, GLOBE International.

The initial five-year pilot programme will:

– Demonstrate how countries can quantify the value of ecosystems and their services in terms of income and asset value

– Develop ways to incorporate these values into planning and design of specific policies linking wealth and economic growth

– Develop guidelines for the practical implementation of ecosystem valuation that can be applied around the world.

In Colombia and India, feasibility studies to identify priority ecosystems will start soon. Other countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Central Europe have indicated strong interest in being pilot countries under the Partnership.