World Bank calls for ecosystems to be valued

October 28, 2010

, NAGOYA, Oct 28 – The World Bank on Thursday called for a radical shift in countries\’ economic models to include the value of forests, mangroves, coral reefs and other ecosystems.

India and Colombia will be among the first countries to take part in a five-year pilot programme with the World Bank to start the economic shake-up.

World Bank president Robert Zoellick announced the programme on the sidelines of a UN biodiversity summit in the Japanese city of Nagoya.

"The natural wealth of nations should be a capital asset valued in combination with its financial capital, manufactured capital and human capital," Zoellick said.

"National accounts need to reflect the vital carbon storage services that forests provide and the coastal protection values that come from coral reefs and mangroves."

Zoellick said that including in national accounts the trillions of dollars worth of value derived from ecosystems would help protect the world\’s rapidly diminishing biodiversity.

He gave an example of coastal mangroves being cleared for shrimp farming.

Under the new economic model, the value that mangroves have in protecting coastal areas from flooding and the loss of fish would also be factored in.

People would then be in a better position to determine the economic consequences of clearing the mangroves, rather than looking at the short-term benefit of shrimp farming.

The World Bank move comes after a UN-backed report was released at the Nagoya summit saying degradation of the world\’s ecoystems was costing the global economy between two and five trillion dollars a year.

That report raised the alarm about the need for the global economy to put a value on ecosystems, and Zoellick said the World Bank wanted to work out a way to implement its recommendations.

"Through this new partnership, we plan to pilot ways to integrate ecosystem valuation into national accounts and then scale up what work to countries around the world," he said.

The UN summit is due to end on Friday with more than 190 countries aiming to agree a 20-point plan to protect the world\’s ecosystems over the next decade.

Scientists say that ecosystem degradation is causing the world\’s plant and animal species to vanish at up to 1,000 times the natural rate, threatening human existence.

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