China Voices Support for National Study on Value of Ecosystem Services
Nairobi, 26 July 2012-The Chinese government has signalled its support for a future national study on the value of the country's ecosystems and biodiversity, during a high-level meeting in Beijing.
Such a study would be based on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB); a UNEP-hosted initiative which calls for wider recognition by decision-makers in business and government of nature's contribution to livelihoods, health, security, and culture.
China voiced its support for integrating key elements of TEEB in the country's environmental management strategies during a forum entitled 'TEEB: Towards a National Process', held on the sidelines of the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing last week.
The event was attended by Amina Mohamed, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Bai Chengshou, Deputy Director General of the Department of Nature Conservation, Ministry of Environmental Protection, China, Pavan Sukhdev, TEEB study leader and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, and other environmental experts.
The forum was also organized by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the Chinese Academy of Environmental Sciences.
Discussions covered many fundamental principles of TEEB, such as recognizing the intrinsic value of nature, payments for ecosystem services, assessing the economic value of China's forest biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem services.
"There has been some research in China on TEEB, and we do need comprehensive and systematic exchange with other experts to develop the evaluation system of biodiversity and ecosystems in China," said Bai Chengshou of China's Ministry of Environmental Protection at the event.
"It is expected that a report of value of biodiversity and ecosystem of China will be conducted for policy makers, local government and the public to promote national process of TEEB in China," he added.
"The prospect of a national TEEB study in China is of utmost importance to all of us, as it signifies a renewed political will and commitment to our citizenry and our environment," said Amina Mohamed, UNEP Deputy Executive Director.
"China's economy has experienced impressive double-digit growth for the past decade, but at great cost to the environment. With the help of a national TEEB study, China is on its way to mapping out a different kind of future ? one that promotes better consumption over more consumption, one that creates public wealth over private wealth, and one that builds natural capital instead of man-made capital," added Ms. Mohamed.
TEEB has been gaining international recognition since the launch of the initiative's first major report in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010. The report outlined the high economic value of ecosystems including forests, freshwater, soils and coral reefs - as well as the social and economic costs of their loss.
It showed that ecosystem services and other non-marketed natural goods account for up to 89 per cent of the so-called 'GDP of the Poor' in some large developing countries (i.e. the effective GDP or total sources of livelihoods of rural and forest-dwelling poor households).
China joins a growing number of states, including India, Brazil and Georgia, that have adopted, or expressed interest in adopting, the TEEB approach for national decision making on the environment.
To date, twelve national or sub-national TEEB initiatives have been officially launched and are currently being either framed or developed, while numerous other TEEB-like or TEEB-inspired projects are similarly gaining critical mass.
The government of India launched its national TEEB project in 2011. It aims to recognize, demonstrate, capture and optimize the value of ecosystem services in the country, while targeting policy actions at national and state levels and improving public awareness of the importance and value of natural habitats.
The preliminary findings of India's study are set to be released at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), to be held in Hyderabad, India, on 8-19 October 2012.
In Latin America, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment is in the process of developing a gap analysis and selecting an Advisory Board for the governance of a TEEB-Brazil initiative.
Several countries in Africa, including Egypt, South Africa and Uganda, are performing ecosystem and biodiversity valuation assessments in close alignment with the TEEB approach.
TEEB is an independent study hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with financial support from the European Commission, Germany, UK, Norway, and Sweden.
UNEP Deputy Executive Director in China
The TEEB forum was just one event during a three-day mission undertaken by the UNEP Deputy Executive Director, which focused on greening relations between Africa and China.
Amina Mohamed also attended the Special Session of China Ecological Forum, where she delivered a keynote speech on the outcomes of the UN's Rio20 summit and South-South cooperation.
The UNEP Deputy Executive Director highlighted opportunities for new partnerships between developing and emerging economies relating to the environment and the transition to a green economy.
She added that rising pressures on finite resources such as water and food, underlined the need for increased South-South co-operation in the area of sustainable development.
"The world population is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, with an estimated two thirds living in cities. These will largely occur in developing countries," said Ms. Mohamed.
"We need to take this into account in the future framework of South-South Cooperation and strengthen our efforts to meet increasing needs for food, water, energy and shelter. We must ensure that activities in South-South Cooperation support ecosystems, which are the foundation of our sustainability," she added.
Ms. Mohamed also highlighted UNEP's South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism ? a new online database launched in April 2012 that aims to strengthen partnerships between sustainable development projects in developing countries.
Governments, NGOs, research centres, civil society, academics, and others working on environmental issues in developing countries can submit multimedia content to the website and share their expertise and experiences with peers.
The first online portal of its kind, the UNEP initiative will also provide multimedia updates, a discussion forum and other interactive features.
For more information, please contact:
Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 20 7623088 / +254 731 666 214 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anita Beck, TEEB Communications Officer (Geneva) on Tel. +41 22 917 8763, E-mail: email@example.com