Agriculture & Food


© Matthias Ripp – Agriculture

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Ecosystems and agricultural & food systems are typically evaluated in isolation from one another, despite their many and significant links. The economic invisibility of many of these links is a major reason for this ‘silo’ thinking. However, ecosystems are the ecological home in which crop and livestock systems thrive and produce food for humans, and in turn agricultural practices, food production, distribution and consumption impose several unquantified externalities on ecosystems and human health and well-being.

A ‘TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ (TEEBAgFood) study, led by the UNEP TEEB Office, will seek to bring together economists, business leaders, agriculturalists and experts in biodiversity and ecosystems to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of the ‘eco-agri-food systems’ complex, and demonstrate that the economic environment in which farmers operate is distorted by significant externalities, both negative and positive, and a lack of awareness of dependency on natural capital. A “double-whammy” of economic invisibility of impacts from both ecosystems and agricultural/food systems is a root cause of increased fragility and lower resilience to shocks in both ecological and human systems.

Relevant materials

» Interim Report (forthcoming, October 2015)
» Towards TEEBAgFood (May 2015)
» Info Brochure (May 2015)
» Concept note

Relevant meetings & events

» Expert Workshop (upcoming 7-10 Sep. 2015)
» GA Future of Food Int. Dialogue (18-19 May 2015)
» NY Times Food For Tomorrow (11-12 Nov. 2014)
» Agro-ecology Symposium (18-19 Sep. 2014)
» TEEBAgFood Scoping workshop (22-23 Jan. 2014)




Study framework

This study will seek to review the economic interdependencies outlined in the diagram below, mainly between human (economic and social) system’, agriculture and food systems, and biodiversity and ecosystems. In doing so, it will address the economic invisibility of many of these links while exploring how biodiversity and key ecosystem services deliver benefits to the agriculture sector and also beyond, itself being a key contributor to human health, livelihoods and well-being.


Project Components

In order to produce impetus for the project overall, an ‘Interim Report’ will first set out to provide new and compelling (but balanced and science-based) evidence from a global meta-analysis as well as a number of studies on externalities-heavy agricultural sectors, including livestock, rice and palm oil.

A ‘Scientific and Economic Foundations’ report will address the core theoretical issues and controversies underpinning the evaluation of the nexus between the agri-food sector, biodiversity and ecosystem services and externalities from agriculture on a global scale. In essence it seeks to set the theoretical context for the evaluation of policy implementation.

A ‘Policies, Production and Consumption’ report will by definition focus on the evaluation of different agro-ecological production systems and policies in different socio-economic contexts. Since TEEBAgFood concerns not only agriculture but entire food systems as well, the report will also consider food policies, including those targeting food waste and food safety along the entire food chain, from production to final disposal, as well as food quality in nutritional terms.

Finally, a Synthesis Report is to have clearly articulated key messages and recommendations arising from the findings of the core reports, written with a broad readership in mind. It will be supported by an extensive communications strategy.

«TEEB for Agriculture & Food»
is supported by the European Commission and the following members from the Global Alliance for the Future of Food: Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, KR Foundation, The Christensen Fund and V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.


To contact TEEBAgFood team, please write to 

Latest Publications

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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The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – Valuation Database Manual

December 2013 – The Manual presents an overview and explains the potential uses and functions of the TEEB Valuation Database. The Manual discusses the origin of the database; describes its content and structure; outlines its contents and discusses how it may be used including important caveats.

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TEEB Georgia Scoping Study

September 2013 – This scoping study takes stock of work that has been done thus far on biodiversity and ecosystem services assessments in Georgia, prioritizes important economic sectors and highlights critical relationships to biodiversity and ecosystem services. The study identifies five core sectors energy, tourism, agriculture, mining, and forestry applicable for TEEB.

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