Biodiversity Loss = Economic Loss

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“Urgent remedial action is essential because
species loss and ecosystem degradation are
inextricably linked to human well-being,” said
Pavan Sukhdev, a banker at Deutsche Bank and the
main author of the report.

“This is crunch time,” said WWF Director General
Jim Leape. “We’re gathered here under urgent
circumstances.”
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REUTERS
May 29, 2008

U.N. experts warn of economic cost of species loss
By Madeline Chambers

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Mankind is causing 50
billion euros ($78 billion) of damage to the
planet’s land areas every year, making it
imperative governments act to save plants and
animals, a Deutsche Bank official told a U.N.
conference.

A study, presented to delegates from 191
countries in the U.N.’s Convention on Biological
Diversity on Thursday, said recent pressure on
commodity and food prices highlighted the effects
of the loss of biodiversity to society.

“Urgent remedial action is essential because
species loss and ecosystem degradation are
inextricably linked to human well-being,” said
Pavan Sukhdev, a banker at Deutsche Bank and the
main author of the report.

On top of the current 50 billion euros annual
loss from land-based ecosystems caused by factors
including pollution and deforestation, the
cumulative loss could amount to at least 7
percent of annual consumption by 2050, said the
report.

Deforestation, if continued at current levels,
would cost some 6 percent of world gross domestic
product by 2050, he said.

The idea of the report is to spur action to
safeguard wildlife in the way Britain’s Stern
report sparked action to fight climate change
after the economic costs were outlined, German
Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas
said the study proved biodiversity was not just
about saving pandas and tigers but underscored
the need to preserve natural wealth.

“The report shows we are eating away at our
natural capital and making ourselves vulnerable
to climate change,” he said.

Delegates and environment groups praised the
report, entitled “The Economics of Ecosystems and
Biodiversity”, saying the figures helped make the
case for integrating biodiversity into policy.

Sukhdev will present a second, fuller, report next year.

Delegates at the U.N. meeting are trying to agree
on ways to save species which experts say are
facing their biggest crisis since the dinosaurs
died out 65 million years ago. Three species
vanish every hour, they say.

“CRUNCH TIME”

The conference ends on Friday and
environmentalists warned that much still had to
be done, even after 11-days of negotiations on
issues like creating and managing protected
natural areas, tackling deforestation and
invasive species.

“This is crunch time,” said WWF Director General
Jim Leape. “We’re gathered here under urgent
circumstances.”

Gabriel said progress had been made on a roadmap
for rules on access to genetic resources and
sharing their benefits.

Sukhdev warned if no action is taken, 11 percent
of the earth’s natural areas could be lost by
2050, mainly due to farming, infrastructure
growth and climate change.

He also said research showed the world’s
commercial fisheries are likely to have collapsed
within 50 years unless trends are reversed. That
would be devastating for the 1 billion people who
rely on fisheries for protein and could lead to
up to $80 billion to $100 billion in income loss
for the sector.

The report says assigning just 1 percent of
global GDP could achieve significant improvements
in air and water quality and human health as well
as ensure progress towards climate targets.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, editing by
Alister Doyle and Ibon Villelabeitia)

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