Nature by numbers: use of the economics of ecosystems to lobby and influence development decisions - Blog by Mathew Parr and Henk Simons

How can Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in developing countries make the most of the growing role of economics in ecosystem conservation, and vice versa, ecosystem thinking in development and business economics in their lobbying and advocacy strategies? These were the central questions being discussed at a three day workshop organized by IUCN NL for Ecosystem Alliance (EA) partners from eight countries last week in Amsterdam.

Participants of the Ecosystem Alliance TEEB workshop

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative seeks to draw attention to the invisibility of nature in the economic choices we make across the domains of international, national, and local policy-making, public administration, and business. TEEB sees this invisibility as a key driver of the ongoing depletion of ecosystems and biodiversity, impacting local livelihoods and the global economy. Ecosystem Alliance CSO partners have been applying TEEB in a number of landscapes and policy contexts for a variety of objectives over the past five years, including:

  • Ghana – Enhancing the conservation status and management of the Atewa Forest
  • Uganda – Greater protection for the Lutembe Bay Wetlands to support local livelihoods
  • Indonesia – Forest conservation and sustainable land use planning in the Kampar Peninsula
  • Kenya – Improved, sustainable water and land use planning in the Tana River Basin
  • Bolivia – Promoting more sustainable cattle ranching in Roboré
  • Philippines – Rehabilitation of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin
  • Brazil – LIFE biodiversity conservation certification for primary sectors
  • Benin - creation of a transboundary Biosphere reserve in the Mono River Delta in Togo and Benin.

The CSOs came to Amsterdam to harvest and share the lessons in implementing these TEEB projects, learn from various TEEB experts, and to look forward to the next five years and think about strategies, plans and capacity needs. They were joined by a number of international TEEB experts, including the chief of the global UNEP TEEB program, Salman Hussein, the lead author of the TEEB for Local and Regional Policy book, Heidi Wittmer and colleagues from UFZ, plus Roel Drost, lead partner in Ernst and Young Netherlands for the Natural Capital Protocol.

The workshop was organized around the three stages of a TEEB trajectory: preparing and scoping; carrying out assessments and valuation; and interpretation and use of results. A number of key themes emerged from the workshop, including:

  • The importance of investing sufficient time and resources in each phase of a TEEB trajectory, not just jumping into a valuation exercise per se.
  • The challenges and approaches of business engagement within the framework of a TEEB study, and tools available for this.
  • Identifying the most effective ‘owners’ and key stakeholders of the trajectory and study at an early stage
  • The importance of defining SMART objectives – e.g. which policy process to be influenced, which desired impacts (for ecosystems and people), timeline – during the scoping phase.

The CSO partners also shared their plans and capacity needs for the next five years, which included expansion of the existing studies to focus on key commodities or building of future scenarios, applying TEEB in different landscapes to address particular policy or development challenges, and use of training for important stakeholders in country to enable more effective application of TEEB.
A forthcoming publication by IUCN NL will summarise the CSO TEEB projects carried out under the EA, capture the major strategies and lessons, and outline a capacity building approach to enable more effective use of TEEB by CSOs in the future.

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