The importance of assessing the true value of nature and biodiversity to the economy and to society is becoming increasingly recognised by citizens and policy makers. This, together with growing concern over the loss of biodiversity worldwide, has led the development of assessments aiming to recognise, demonstrate and capture the value of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems for the purposes of decision making.
The benchmark study in this area is The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative. IEEP has been closely involved in this study from its early stages having led or partnered key supporting studies on the state of scientific knowledge on ecosystem services and the economic value of ecosystem services. IEEP coordinated the TEEB synthesis for National and International Policy Making, and authored sections on key issues including subsidy reform, biodiversity banking, biodiversity and ecosystem service indicators, and the value of protected areas.
We have also carried out several regional and national studies highlighting the value of biodiversity. These include, for example, assessments of the socio-economic value of ecosystem services in the Nordic countries (TEEB Nordic), Finland (TEEB for Finland) and the Arctic region. Furthermore, we have been involved in several studies looking at the costs and benefits of policy action on biodiversity, including costs of policy inaction or opportunity costs related to action.
Exploring socio-economic benefits of protected areas is a key focus of our work. We have been playing a leading role in the development of estimates for the costs and benefits of managing the EU Natura 2000 network, including increasing awareness on the benefits and finding effective ways of communicating these benefits to stakeholders at the local, national and European level. We have also developed dedicated guidance to practitioners on assessing social and economic benefits of protected areas.
The contribution and value of nature to human welfare and well-being – our natural capital – tends to be overlooked in many policy decisions and business choices. As a result, ecosystems are being degraded and natural resources are being used in an unsustainable way.
Today we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity aiming at increasing understanding of the diversity of life on the planet and awareness of its importance for human development. IEEP takes the opportunity to share some key positive lessons from recent EU biodiversity action and identify key remaining challenges towards 2030.
IEEP has developed a bottom-up, multicriteria methodology to assess costs and benefits of EU water policy, which has been applied in eight river basin districts across the EU. A similar methodology could support progress towards a number of EU, national and international policy objectives at the river basin and local level, including the achievement of SDGs.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an important policy tool for protecting vulnerable marine and coastal species and habitats.
By supporting the resilience of ecosystems, MPAs may also maintain and generate goods and services that can benefit different sectors in the “blue” European economy. However, MPAs are often seen as primarily imposing restrictions and costs on economic activities, creating aversion toward their establishment and protection.
In a recently publicly published book chapter, Jean-Pierre Schweitzer and IEEP’s Susanna Gionfra brought together evidence of how nature-based education, utilizing green infrastructure and protected areas, presents an opportunity to mitigate the impacts of environmental and socio-economic challenges faced by urban citizens.
IEEP Lead of Global Challenges and SDGs Programme, Marianne Kettunen, co-authored the UNDP call for action to safeguard nature in order to secure water-related services and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Protecting nature and biodiversity is helping to tackle urgent health and social challenges across Europe. A new IEEP study shows how urban, suburban and rural green areas bring multiple and often overlooked benefits to society.
Wildlife crime threatens global biodiversity. The EU is both a destination and a transit region for illegally-traded products. A new study for the European Parliament summarises the situation in Europe and offers policy recommendations in view of the upcoming EU Action Plan. A set of in-depth case studies outline the situation in five EU countries.
Marine Protected Areas provide a range of benefits to human wellbeing, including providing food, mitigating climate change and creating opportunities for recreation and tourism. Further steps are needed to assess and communicate these benefits, this way supporting marine conservation both globally and in the EU.
Drawing on recent work by the Institute, IEEP’s Patrick ten Brink will present at Green Week 2015 on Jobs & Growth through Green Infrastructure (3 June 2015 - 16:30-18:00, Session 2.2) and on Health and Social Benefits of Nature and Biodiversity Protection (4 June 2015 - 09:30-11:00, Session 3.3).