Biodiversity is essential for economic well-being. As Conservation Tools.org notes, “[a]griculture, forestry and fisheries products, stable natural hydrological cycles, fertile soils, a balanced climate and numerous other vital ecosystem services depend upon the conservation of biological diversity.” The World Health Organization says that biodiversity loss means that we are losing, before discovery, many of nature’s chemicals and genes, of the kind that have already provided humankind with enormous health benefits. Yet each year, extinctions go unheralded as if species are expendable and of no economic value whatsoever.
Fortunately, biodiversity protection is gaining more serious global attention. In 2010, signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a ten-year strategic plan with five strategic goals:
• Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
• Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
• Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
• Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
• Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building
To help further refine these goals, twenty specific targets know as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were adopted for 2015 or 2020 and organized under these five strategic goals. The goals and targets comprise both aspirations for achievement at the global level, and a flexible framework for the establishment of national or regional targets. But as with any major global program, costs must be understood along side program benefits to help convince decision makers to allocate the necessary resources.
To this end, the U.K. Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) entered into an agreement with Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE) to develop a rough order of magnitude estimate (ROM) of the resource requirements of meeting three of the Aichi Targets: 5 (related to halting the loss of wetlands), 8 (reducing pollution harmful to biodiversity), and 14 (protecting ecosystem services relied upon by traditional communities). We researched the costs and benefits of 17 distinct conservation and restoration programs such as global clean up of marine debris, dramatically reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff into marine dead zones, pulling subsidies for new large dams, adopting “no net loss” standards for wetlands, and restoring coral reefs.
While the economic costs of such programs may average $154 to $465 billion per year through 2020, economic benefits – such as increased commercial fish landings and public savings from reduced subsidies – are likely to offset all these costs and in many cases exceed them. As a result, significant global resources allocated to biodiversity preservation represent sound economic investments in the future.
For our report and related materials, please click here to visit the project page