The ground-breaking move was suggested at a UN meeting of more than 190 countries in Nagoya, Japan to discuss the loss of wildlife around the world.
Pavan Sukhdev, an economist based in London, was ordered to look at the value of nature in the same way British economist Nicholas Stern‘s famous 2006 report looked at the financial implications of climate change.
His three year report said ‘ecosystem goods and services’, such as the medicines found in plants or oxygen provided by trees, are worth billions of pounds every year. Allowing nature to remain unaccounted for within the economy would lead to the continuing rapid extinction of species and huge financial losses. At current rates £1.3 – £2.8 trillion pounds worth of damage is done every year just cutting down trees.
But if countries start to calculate the value of services provided by nature, Mr Sukhdev said it will become an explicit part of policy and decision making.
“Teeb‘s approach can reset the economic compass,” he said. “Do nothing, and not only do we lose trillions of dollars’ worth of current and future benefits to society, we also further impoverish the poor and put future generations at risk. The time for ignoring biodiversity and persisting with conventional thinking regarding wealth creation and development is over. We must get on to the path towards a green economy.”
Already India, Japan and Brazil have agreed to publish accounts of their country’s ‘natural capital’. The EU, including Britain, is considering bringing in the measure, that will be used in the same way as gross domestic product (GDP) to calculate a country’s wealth.
“Teeb can have the same impact for biodiversity as Stern had for climate change and will be a useful tool to help reduce the loss of species and habitats … economically, we have to take action to reduce the loss of our natural environment before the cost becomes too high,” she said.