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Biodiversity: Powering up local authorities around the globe

Commission Européenne - IP/10/1107   09/09/2010

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IP/10/1107

Brussels, 09 September 2010

Biodiversity: Powering up local authorities around the globe

How can local authorities save money while boosting economies, enhancing quality of life and generating employment? By factoring ecosystem services into policy-making, according to a new report. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Local and Regional Policy Makers report shows local policy makers how to improve their understanding of the value and services provided by natural capital like woodlands, parks and waterways, and to reap benefits in local policy areas such as urban management, spatial planning and protected areas management.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: "Local and regional planning authorities wield enormous power, and can be a tremendous force for good. This report showcases numerous examples of the successful integration of biodiversity-friendly thinking into local planning decisions around the world, with detailed benefits for local citizens. In many cases, it's a roadmap to environmental success."

TEEB Study Leader Pavan Sukhdev said: “Nature’s multiple and complex values have direct economic impacts on human well-being and public spending at a local and well as national level. By focusing on the various benefits from nature we can see the direct and indirect ways that we depend on the natural environment and this insight can substantially support local policy and public management. We urge local authorities to read this report and recognize the benefits provided by nature and the economic dimension of their local natural capital.”

Mainstreaming biodiversity at ground level in Europe…

The new report, entitled TEEB for Local and Regional Policy Makers, prepared by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, highlights how much cities depend on nature, and illustrates how ecosystem services can provide cost-effective solutions to municipal services. The study shows how Rome, for example, is reaping the benefits of 5,000 ha of green public areas, and how local authorities in Wales are improving citizens' health by increased provision of green spaces. Among the recommendations are payment schemes for ecosystem services, guidelines for rewarding good stewardship of local natural capital, certification and labelling.

…and around the world

Over 140 experts from science, economics and policy from more than 40 countries across the globe have been involved in the research, analysis and writing of the TEEB for Local and Regional Policy Makers report, which contains case studies from many countries such as South Africa, India, Australia, Vietnam and Peru.

In addition to the importance of appraising ecosystem services, the report also underlines three key issues that need attention if natural capital is to work for local development:

  • 1: The fair distribution of rights to nature’s benefits. Policy changes often affect service distribution or access – and this must be considered during decision making.

  • 2: Maximal use of available scientific and experience based knowledge as this will help provide a common language to capture diverse views.

  • 3: Stakeholder engagement throughout the process to prioritize and develop feasible and effective local policy action.

Background

The planet’s natural assets – from individual species to ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs, freshwaters and soils – are declining at an alarming rate. Biodiversity loss costs billions to the global economy every year, undermining economies, business prospects and opportunities to combat poverty.

TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – is a project funded by the European Commission and governments including Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and Japan, dedicated to building the economic case for changing the way we assess and manage nature-based assets.

This is the third TEEB stakeholder report (after previous reports aimed at national policy makers and businesses), and the last before the presentation of the TEEB overall results at the Biodiversity COP 10 in Nagoya in October.

Further information:

All TEEB reports are available at

http://www.teebweb.org/


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