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18 March 2010

Economic value of nature 'still invisible', says UN

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A United Nations initiative is making massive calculations in an attempt to put a price on nature services such as soil, forest or fresh water in a drive to convince policymakers to implement the 'polluter pays' principle to protect nature, said Pavan Sukhdev, who leads the initiative

"Unfortunately our current economic systems are not geared to defending or preserving anything that does not carry economic value," Pavan deplored.

As a result, he says, "society destroys nature," adding that it does not necessarily have to be that way.

For example, when forests are cut down, the cost downstream may amount to billions of euros as deforestation leads to flooding. Biodiversity loss thus leads to losses in the economy, which then raises the interest of policymakers.

The UN initiative is trying to demonstrate and capture the value nature delivers to society before economic losses can occur, Pavan explained. But he denied that the aim of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is to put a price tag on nature.


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