The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is a global initiative focused on drawing attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity. Its objective is to highlight the growing cost of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. TEEB presents an approach that can help decision-makers recognize, demonstrate and capture the values of ecosystems & biodiversity, including how to incorporate these values into decision-making.

History and Background

In March 2007, environment ministers from the G8+5 countries meeting in Potsdam, Germany, agreed to initiate the process of analyzing the global economic benefit of biological diversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the failure to take protective measures versus the costs of effective conservation. A global study was initiated the same year by The German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the European Commission (EC), with the support of an Advisory Board.

TEEB’s Evolution has been marked by three main phases;

In Phase one various organizations contributed their resources, studies, or expertise for study.  The results of this study named “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) and the findings were presented in an Interim Report at a High-Level Segment of the Ninth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-9) in Bonn, Germany in May 2008.

The TEEB Interim Report laid a broad foundation where evidence and examples of valuation were collated, elements of a biodiversity/ecosystem valuation framework identified, and long standing issues such as ethics in making choices regarding future values were re-emphasized.

TEEB Study Reports- Phase II

In phase two the launching of the Interim Report stimulated further interest in the TEEB initiative and led to calls for additional economic analysis and the production of a series of reports for specific stakeholders.

The TEEB initiative responded to the call for additional analysis by producing four key publications, presented at the CBD COP-10 in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010:

  • TEEB Ecological and Economic Foundations. A report on the fundamental concepts and state-of-the-art methodologies for economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  • TEEB in National and International Policy Making. A report providing analysis and guidance on how to value and internalize biodiversity and ecosystem values in policy decisions;
  • TEEB in Local and Regional Policy. A report providing analysis and guidance for mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem values at regional and local levels, copiously illustrated with case study examples; and
  • TEEB in Business and Enterprise. A report providing analysis and guidance on how business and enterprise can identify and manage their biodiversity and ecosystem risks and opportunities.
  • TEEB Synthesis Report. A report that provides an introduction to approaches, recommendations on how to mainstreaming the economics of nature into decision-making.

Additional TEEB Studies

To advance the application of TEEB within sectors and  biomes, a number of studies are underway. In particular, these initiatives seek to recognize the values provided by ecosystems and their services to relevant economic sectors, as well as assess the costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, with an ultimate focus on integrating these findings into decision-making at all levels. The additional studies available include:

  •  TEEB  for  Water and Wetlands  initiated by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, underlines the fundamental importance of wetlands in the water cycle, and presents insights on critical water-related ecosystem services in order to encourage additional policy momentum, business commitment, and investment in the conservation, restoration, and wise use of wetlands.
  • Released in 2011, TEEB Manual for Cities highlights how a focus on ecosystem services and their valuation, can create direct benefits for cities. It also provides stepwise guidance on how to do this illustrated by in-depth case studies. The Manual is also available in Polish.
  • In 2009, the TEEB Climate Issues Update was published to show how climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked and how investments in the restoration and conservation of our planet’s ecosystems, valued at several trillion dollars, can play a major role in combating climate change.
  • TEEB Oceans discussion paper was presented by Pavan Sukhdev at the World Oceans Summit, in February 2012. Valuing oceans ecosystem services would provide policy-makers with a strong rationale to improve ocean management and invest in marine conservation for its risk management value and its economic benefits.
  • Written especially for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Nature and its Role in the Green Economy discussion paper looks at how Nature and Natural Capital contribute to a green economy, both in terms of the benefits provide to society by maintaining nature as well as the losses avoided by conserving and rehabilitating natural capital.

 TEEB country Studies- Phase III

Capitalizing on the momentum created from the TEEB Study reports and network of partners, the initiative has now moved into a phase of implementation at the country level. This shift responds to numerous requests and interest by governments to build national, regional and local government capacity to produce tailored economic assessments of ecosystems and biodiversity, and support to mainstream this information into policy-making. TEEB country support includes:

  • Developing guidance material on how to mainstream the value of ecosystems and biodiversity into decision-making at the country level. (see flyer on Guidance Manual for TEEB Country Studies)
  • Organizing workshops to build the capacity of national, regional and local stakeholders to produce tailored economic assessments of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Providing technical expertise to five pilot countries to undertake assessments of their ecosystems and biodiversity and mainstream this information into policy.

Our  Approach

The TEEB study follows a tiered approach in analyzing and structuring valuation guided by three core principles:

  1. Recognizing value in ecosystems, landscapes, species and other aspects of biodiversity is a feature of all human societies and communities and is sometimes sufficient to ensure conservation and sustainable use. For example the existence of sacred groves in some cultures has helped to protect natural areas and the biodiversity they contain.
  2. Demonstrating value in economic terms is often useful for policy makers and others such as business in reaching decisions that consider the full costs and benefits of an ecosystem rather than just those costs or values that enter the markets in the form of private goods. An example would include calculating the costs and benefits of conserving the ecosystem services provided by wetlands in controlling floods compared to building flood defenses. The demonstration of an economic value even though it does not result in specific measures is an important aid in achieving efficient used of natural resources.
  3. Capturing value involves the introduction of mechanisms that incorporate the values of ecosystems into decision-making through incentives and price signals. This can include payments for ecosystem services, reforming environmentally harmful subsidies or introducing tax breaks for conservation.

Latest Publications

TEEBAgriFood Interim Report

The Interim Report introduces the key questions, issues and arguments to be addressed by TEEBAgriFood.

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Towards TEEBAgriFood

TEEB is bringing together economists, business leaders, agriculturalists and experts in biodiversity and ecosystem services to systematically review the economic interdependencies between agriculture and natural ecosystems, and provide a comprehensive economic valuation of eco-agri-food systems. Alexander Müller, TEEB for Agriculture & Food…

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TEEB Challenges and Responses

TEEB ‘s progress, challenges and responses towards mainstreaming the economics of nature. [ENG] [ESP]

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TEEB for Agriculture & Food Concept Note

February 2014- The Concept Note presents the case for and proposed outline content of a TEEB for Agriculture & Food study.

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Natural Capital Accounting and Water Quality: Commitments, Benefits, Needs and Progress

December 2013 – The briefing note outlines existing guidance and examples on water quality accounting and identifies the ongoing challenges related to the development of natural capital accounting and water quality accounting. Inspired by the growing global focus on natural capital accounting, the note identifies the ongoing challenges related to the development of natural capital accounting and water quality accounting, in order to encourage debate and commitment towards effective water and biodiversity policy.

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