The economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands


Courtesy of Wetlands International

1. Introduction

The “nexus” among water, food and energy has been recognised as one of the most fundamental relationships and challenges for society. Biodiversity and particularly wetland ecosystems are increasingly understood to be at the core of this nexus. Indeed water and wetlands are the foundation for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of humanity across the globe. The recognition of the value of water and wetlands and integration into decisionmaking to ensure their wise use are, therefore, essential to meet our future social, economic and environmental needs.

Wetlands1 provide ecological infrastructure that typically deliver a wider range of services and benefits than corresponding man-made infrastructure. Wetlands are an important, poorly understood, complement to built infrastructure in watershed planning efforts. Ensuring the maintenance and enhancement of the benefits of water and wetlands is, therefore, a key element in a transition to a green economy.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative has demonstrated the usefulness of presenting economic arguments on the value of nature, and targeting the messages to different audiences to help improve decision making in public and private sectors. The TEEB for Water and Wetlands work builds on this to generate better understanding of the changing ecosystem service values of water and wetlands to encourage improved decision making and business commitment for their conservation, wise use and investment in their restoration.

This work has been initiated by the Ramsar Convention secretariat, supported by the Norwegian, Swiss and Finnish Governments and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A team comprising the secretariats of The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) secretariats, the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ) and Wetlands International is taking forward this work. The initial aim is to present a TEEB Water and Wetlands synthesis report at the CBD COP11 in October.

This TEEB for Water and Wetlands Brief introduces the new initiative, presents initial ideas on the benefits and questions to be explored over the coming months. Obtaining new and complementary insights from the practical experience of stakeholders (ecosystem managers, communities, municipalities, decision makers from the public and private sector at local, national and international scale etc.) from around the world will be an important element in the development of this work Readers are invited to respond to the questions listed below and to submit further information and case studies (see contact information at the end of the paper).

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