Nairobi, 6 January 2010 - Every year the world economy loses between $2 trillion to $5 trillion.
You might imagine I am referring to the recent financial and economic crisis.
But I instead it is a reference to the loss of the Earth's natural assets or natural capital.
In other words the loss of ecosystems such as forests and freshwaters and the loss of biodiversity-the animals, plants and living organisms: the building blocks of those ecosystems.
In developing countries, such as those in Africa, these multi-trillion dollar losses are especially significant.
Large percentages of the population are directly reliant on the services generated by nature for their livelihoods and even their very survival.
For those of us in the international community who have worked closely on this issue for many years, 2010 has special resonance.
This is the year by which it had been agreed to 'reverse the rate of loss of biodiversity'.
It has not happened. It has to start happening now in the UN's International Year of Biodiversity ? 2010/
Thus UNEP welcomes this partnership with PUMA-the private sector has a role and a responsibility in respect to biodiversity alongside of course governments, civil society and the individual citizen.
Part of UNEP's role and responsibility to the biodiversity challenge is assessing and bringing the economics into play.
The $2 trillion to $5 trillion losses I mentioned earlier come from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted by UNEP.
It is work in progress, funded by the European Commission, Germany, Norway and the UK, that will culminate in a final report towards the end of 2010.
It would be wrong to simply boil down biodiversity and the Earth's natural assets to mere dollar and cents or shillings.
But part of the failures of the past are rooted in the failure of society to grasp the economic importance of biodiversity and nature's services when compared with other sectors of the economy.
UNEP is determined to change this and make them central to economic decision-making rather than peripheral-determined to make them part of the emerging Green Economy.
Part of that response is happening here in Africa.
In Kenya we are working with the government and others to begin renovating and restoring the multi-million dollar services generated by the Mau forest complex ? services which are vital to the 3 pillars of the Kenyan economy: wildlife tourism; tea plantations and horticulture.
In Mali, work has begun with the government on restoring the lost Lake Faguibine upon which significant numbers, including nomad groups, depend for drinking and irrigation water as well as important biological resources.
Here again we are trying to demonstrate that investing in nature-based infrastructure gives high rates of social, environmental and economic returns.
Biodiversity and nature-based resources are not a luxury but central to human existence. It is a message that needs to be heard loud and clear by everyone.
This is where the power and reach of football comes into play.
For many people football is human existence, especially during a 90 minute match on a Saturday afternoon!
It was Bill Shankly, the former manager of the English football team Liverpool, who summed it up when he said 'football is not a question of life and death. It is more important than that".
As a cricket fan I might have to disagree!
But it does underline the way modern sport heroes like Samuel Etio can unite communities and perhaps shape hearts and minds.
Especially in an era where globalized television and telecommunications extends to all points, north and south; to all countries, developed and developing, and not all developing, to all peoples, irrespective of origin or culture.
UNEP, with its well established sport and environment initiative, is already working with national teams heading to South Africa on off-setting their greenhouse gas emissions. We have asked all countries that are sending teams to do this.
And with funding from the Global Environment Facility, we are now assisting host cities in greening stadia via for example solar power investments.
It builds on the Green Goal initiative for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in which UNEP partnered as well as many years of cooperation in other sporting arenas including the Olympics.
Through this new partnership with PUMA, we hope to bring this passion for football to bear specifically on the challenge of biodiversity and especially in Africa.
Only one team can lift the Africa Cup of Nations and the 2010 FIFA World Cup-alas as a native of Trinidad and Tobago I already know it will not be my national team!!
But perhaps the public awareness and above all action generated by this partnership- and the multitude of other initiatives this year- can make everyone a winner if we all resolve to get behind 'Team Biodiversity' in 2010.