Biodiversity`s true value

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According to CIWEM (UK), the draft declaration of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2010 acknowledged that the targets set at the 2002 summit were summarily missed. It warns that without significant changes there may be increased rates of species extinction, and even possible ecosystem collapse if certain thresholds are crossed. The economic and social value of natural capital should according to CIWEM be remembered when representatives of 200 countries meet in Nagoya (Japan) to discuss how to stem the rate of biodiversity loss, despite coming at a time when most countries are more focused on the strength of their economies.

Clearly more concerted effort is required to halt the rate of decline in biodiversity. Central to this is full and proper recognition of the value provided to humankind by this biodiversity resource. The scale of the economic and social value of ecosystem services is slowly being recognised but this growing understanding must be matched quickly by political will to put in place the structures required to ensure that biodiversity is respected as being more economically valuable alive than extinct.

CIWEM's latest Policy Position Statement on Deforestation emphasises this, urging the value of rainforests as the most biologically rich ecosystems on the planet to be better recognised, utilising an ecosystems approach. CIWEM highlights Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's statement that the global cost of one year's worth of deforestation is estimated at between USD2 and USD5 trillion, and in the long term our natural capital is just as important to our economy as our human and financial capital.

The global economic downturn was heralded as a great opportunity to change things for the better, providing an opportunity to build new economies based on greener infrastructure and principles. CIWEM believes that business as usual is clearly not an option.

This vast monetary value demonstrates why conserving and enhancing our natural capital should be prioritised as quickly and robustly as other cost-saving measures that Governments around the world are currently implementing.

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