TEEB: achievements and future perspectives

On the 12th April, 2011, a meeting on TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) was hosted at the European Parliament by the Mediterranean subgroup of the European Parliament Intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”. It aimed to show how actors can implement TEEB and to outline what future actions should be taken.

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Chaired by MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Theodoros Skylakakis, the meeting gathered speakers including: Francois Wakenhut, European Commission, Directorate General Environment; Patrick ten Brink, the Institute for European Environmental Policy; Hans Friederich, IUCN; Øyvind Lone, the Norwegian Ministry of Environment; and Jacqueline McGlade, the European Environmental Agency. The meeting was completed by the presentation of an example of implementing TEEB in agriculture, by Alain-Dominique Quinart of Syngenta.

The European Commission launched the TEEB report together with Germany in March 2007 and since then the TEEB programme has been constantly improved and expanded.  Francois Wakenhut (Head of the Biodiversity Unit at DG ENV) emphasized the impact that this study has made and the attention it has received “To implement environmental policy, it is crucial to know the economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. TEEB has fed into the biodiversity targets of the Europe 2020 agenda which promotes smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Now, we need to economically value the benefits and costs of protecting biodiversity and the costs of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to guide decision making and raise awareness and support for biodiversity policies. We should also take into account that not everything can be valued in monetary terms”.

The current European context is marked by financial gaps and invites us to consider innovative financial instruments at both the EU and international level. 

One of the challenges ahead of the TEEB study is the lack of valuation.  Along with this, the complexities of biodiversity and short/long term implementation were raised as directly influencing the future development of TEEB. Facing the current situation, Patrick ten Brink (IEEP) stressed that changes need to be adopted in Environmental fiscal value by mainstreaming the economics of nature, changing incentives and markets and, by creation of post- Nagoya steps. However, TEEB is a successful project and the Norwegian perspective presented by Øyvind Lone shows the power of example that this programme can be for others. More precisely, the Norwegian Ministry of Environment is planning a “Norwegian TEEB”, on ecosystem values and services, which will be legally framed until 2013.

The importance of developing strong local policy for the conservation of nature was stressed by Hans Friederich, (IUCN). The TEEB publication - Policy for Local and Regional Policy Makers, provides an overview of approaches and instruments, and requirements and caveats of applying assessments and valuation instruments at the local level.  Hans pointed out that with regards to the implementation of TEEB, IUCN can contribute by putting at disposal its network in Europe in order to facilitate the dialogue and link the agendas of local authorities in ecosystem services. IUCN has the tools to facilitate discussions amongst all groups of society about costs and benefits of mitigation and restoration.

Jacqueline McGlade (EEA) stressed the need for a fast-track ecosystem accounting system. With proper investment, all available data could be brought together and many achievements could be made. Political debate alone is not sufficient; we need to study what the physical limitations of ecosystems are in order to sustainably subtract resources.

MEP Theodoros SKylakakis concluded the meeting by calling attention to the importance of local action in implementing the TEEB and bridging the gap between biodiversity community and policy making.  

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