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.