Tuesday, 21 February 2012 - The beginning of 2012 has marked one of the key biodiversity capacity building events planned for the MENA region to confirm the implementation of the decisions of the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD COP 10, and particularly to address national responses for “Aichi Targets” 2 and 3 of the global Biodiversity Strategic Plan 2011-2020.
The first TEEB workshop in the MENA region, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), was held in Beirut, Lebanon from 21-23 February 2012, witnessing one of the largest number of participants (90) attending, with broad participation by delegates from 20 countries, representatives of ministries of the environment, ministries of finance and ministries of foreign affairs and planning, as well as regional organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Arab Center for Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), Wetland International Mediterranean Programme Office, Global Mechanism, the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR), national authorities on protected areas, and indigenous and local communities (ILCs).
The aim of the workshop was to integrate the economic benefits of nature into decision making process and avoiding harmful incentives to biodiversity at the national level.
The workshop was co-organized by the United Nations Environment Programme through its Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA), UNEP- TEEB office in Geneva, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the League of Arab States, in cooperation with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research.
The outcomes of the workshop were translated through coherent working group sessions which emanated into key TEEB-related actions for the Arab Region by the participants to implement TEEB in the region more effectively. These actions included holding further training workshops on valuation methodologies and pricing tools of ecosystem services, incentives and reforms of harmful subsidies, practical finance mechanisms such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), national accounting, and mainstreaming of TEEB into decision making. Also proposals for national, sub national or regional TEEB studies were welcomed by UNEP-TEEB office in Geneva.
There was consensus that the preparation of a regional TEEB thematic report was needed for the Arab region covering wetlands ecosystems, marine ecosystems, forests, and desert (dry land) ecosystems, which are fully representative of the region’s ecological habitats. Finally, good lessons learned were derived from the successful GIZ studies in North Africa and Middle East and requests included replicating their work in the West Asia region.
Launched in 2007 by the G8+5 ministers of environment under the Potsdam Initiative, and coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), TEEB has drawn attention to the global economic benefits provided by nature, highlighting the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and clarifying the link between nature, the ecosystem services it provides, and the role these services play in our economies.