The earth may not have intellectual property lawyers on retainer, but the UN has named 2010 the Year of Biodiversity, and the United Nations Environment Programme is using TEEB’s November, 2009 report Among the top recommendations of TEEB may be a Green Development Mechanism that parallels the UN climate change emissions trading system, and several tax incentive structures that will credit public and private initiatives for preserving biodiversity.
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But the complexity of the challenge remains daunting.
A country’s income and economic well-being depend on its wealth, where wealth is defined in the broadest sense to include produced, natural, human and social capital.
Recognising this, international agencies have begun to shift their emphasis from economic development as Gross National Product (GNP) growth to economic development as a process of ‘portfolio management’ that seeks to optimise the management of each asset and the distribution of wealth among different kinds of assets.
The task now at hand for the IBPES is basically to convey that biodiversity is a concept almost opposite to the notion of commodity.
A commodity is by definition the same no matter where it comes from or who produces it.
The European Commission – the European Union’s executive body – announced on July 13 that it has undertaken a major initiative, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), to tackle core questions of value.
The TEEB’s research faces abstract monetization issues also being confronted by Internet companies like Facebook and You Tube.
The central challenge of the 21st century is to develop economic, social, and governance systems capable of ending poverty and achieving sustainable levels of population and consumption while securing the life-support systems underpinning current and future human well-being.
Essential to meeting this challenge is the incorporation of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides into decision-making.
Plenty of companies have found ways to make millions from what’s underneath the earth.
And the importance of minerals and hydrocarbons to the modern international economy brings along a need to assign monetary value to resources that are, in their natural state, buried.
Awareness of human dependence on nature is at an all-time high, the science of ecosystem services is rapidly advancing, and talk of natural capital is now common from governments to corporate boardrooms.