IUCN China takes lead in measuring the true value of nature

26 February 2013 | Article

IUCN China and the Elion Foundation are joining hands to establish a pilot project to test China’s first "Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP)", a robust and practical tool to measure the wealth of nature for human society.

Many existing studies have examined the methods and techniques of natural resource accounting. However, the majority of the existing research and studies focus on the economic valuation of certain types of natural resources. The Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP), aims to specific indicators to measure the total economic value of all ecosystem products and services that nature provides for human well-being. The Gross Ecosystem Product is seen as supportive of China’s new Eco-Civilization initiative, established as top priority in the Report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The project, to be conducted in Kubuqi, Inner Mongolia, the seventh largest desert in China, will develop and test an evaluation framework for GEP and identify practical policy, technical, institutional arrangements for establishing a GEP accounting system.

The concept of ecological civilization, one of the key national strategies at the 18th National Congress of the CPC, is drawing increasing attention worldwide, including international organizations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNESCO. There is heated discussion over the meaning and significance of ecological civilization.

A critical step to building ecological civilization is the ability to establish a scientific and effective index system to guide our policy and practice, says Zhang Xinsheng, IUCN President and Secretary-General of Eco-Forum Global, this Workshop is a good beginning, and the formation of this indicator system requires both the efforts of the Chinese community and extensive international cooperation.

GEP counts natural ecosystems as a source of output, rather than simply as a cost. If we consider ecological civilization has four pillars: economic, social, environmental, nature ecosystem, values and morals, then GEP would be a ground breaking account system for the nature’s ecosystem. It could be connected with the world’s leading green economic accounting system such as SEEA, and act as an effective indicator system for ecological civilization. Such would be an immense contribution to our ecological future.

If we only measure economic growth using GDP, we do not capture the vast environmental costs incurred, thus creating a false impression of economic prosperity, says Professor Huang Yi, Environmental Science Professor of Peking University, measuring ecosystem product is critical to inform long-term ecological restoration and management.

The launch ceremony, taking place at the China Hall of Science and Technology on 25 February 2013, will be hosted by IUCN President Mr. Zhang Xinsheng, Founder of Elion Foundation and Mr. Wang Wengbiao, Deputy Director, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences Professor Ouyang Zhiyun.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
Zhang Yan, Programme Coordinator, IUCN China, Tel: (86) 10 85324822, yan.zhang@iucn.org

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.
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