Recognising the value of water and wetlands

A new TEEB initiative exploring the socio-economic importance of wetlands “TEEB Water and Wetlands” was announced at the Rio+20 meeting on 15 June 2012. The study, led by IEEP and initiated by the Ramsar Convention for Wetlands with support from IUCN and the Norwegian, Swiss and Finnish governments, focuses on highlighting how conservation and restoration of wetlands - while beneficial for biodiversity - can also provide cost-effective and sustainable solutions in the context of Green Economy. The study is envisaged to be launched at the upcoming UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Hyderabad, India, in October 2012 (CBD COP11).

In the side event announcing the study, IEEP’s Patrick ten Brink (read his presentation here) outlined the rational for the study, highlighting the fundamental role ecosystems play in maintaining water cycles and the importance of wetlands in providing a range of benefits to human wellbeing. He showcased a number of concrete examples of how assessing and integrating the multiple benefits of wetlands in decision making can create joint benefits for biodiversity, people and economic sectors. These notions were supported by Mark Smith (IUCN) who emphasised the role of ‘natural infrastructure’ provided by wetlands in enhancing water security and identifying more sustainable and equitable pathways for development. Mary Barton-Dock (World Bank) called for the integration of natural capital into national accounting systems to support the transition to a truly sustainable Green Economy. She also noted that the importance of ‘greening’ national accounting systems is also recognised by the key players in global economy such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The announcement of TEEB Water and Wetlands contributed to the impressive array of events highlighting the role of natural capital in the context of Green Economy and Rio+20. Regardless of what the final high-level policy outcomes will be, it can already be concluded that Rio+20 has created an important window of opportunity for accelerating efforts and building further partnerships for a truly ‘green’ Green Economy.

See the IISD Coverage on Rio+20 side events for more information.

See UNCSD link for information on Building Global Capacity on using TEEB for Water and Wetlands for Policy and Decision-making

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