$300 billion a year needed to save biodiversity

By RTCC Staff

While protecting the world's natural environment could cost $300 billion a year, not doing so could cost much more warns Dias.

Saving biodiversity will cost the world $330 billion a year over the next eight years, according to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity’s new chief.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, who took over the convention at the beginning of the year said that while saving the world’s ecosystems would be expensive, failing to protect the natural world would cost even more.

An Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study in 2009 put the costs of taking no action at between $2 trillion and $4.5 trillion every year.

“Biodiversity is the basis of everything we do in agriculture, everything we do in health,” Dias told Reuters.

He said the global repercussions of not protecting biodiversity would include increases in disease, hunger and poverty and a decreased resilience to climate change.

“The development of new vaccines, the development of new cultured varieties of plants is based on biodiversity, genetic resources. If we lose biodiversity, we lose the options for future development in these areas,” Dias said.

“If we want to be more effective in the fight against hunger, we need to enhance the use of local biodiversity. We will not solve this problem just by huge shipments of surplus stocks of crops from one region to another.

“If poor communities survive at all, it’s because they have access to biodiversity…They can catch fish, they can get fruits from the forest. They don’t have cash; they don’t have a salary to buy the goods in markets, so it’s thanks to this access to nature that they survive.”

Some of the major threats facing biodiversity are the human destruction of natural habitats, unbridled economic development, pollution and climate change.

With 2011-2020 named as the UN Decade of Biodiversity the protection of ecosystems is set to be a key issue as the world gets ready for the Rio+20 conference to be held in June this year.

While the 193 parties under the CBD have agreed on what needs to be done to preserve biodiversity by 2020, the job in Rio will be putting in place clear methods for doing this.

Dias believes the $300 billion needed will not come from governments alone and says the UN will be encouraging private investment – including such moves as sustainably harvested woods and ecosystem service payments to landowners.

RTCC’s Photo of the Week this week shows the importance of biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

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