Agriculture & Food
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 meetings & events
» Expert Workshop (Brussels 8-11 Sep. 2015)
A number of studies have been commissioned by UNEP TEEB in order to assess some of the major “externalities-heavy” agricultural sectors, including:
» Livestock: Wageningen University / Trucost & True Price
» Palm Oil: Trucost / True Price & RSPO
» Inland Fisheries: FAO
» Agro-forestry: World Agroforestry Centre / UNEP-WCMC
» Rice: FAO / Trucost
» Maize: CONABIO
Currently underway, these studies are set to be published later this year when the key findings will be presented in an Interim Report in December 2015.
The objective of these feeder studies, inter alia, is to build evidence to identify policy options to facilitate a transition towards more sustainable agricultural practices. More particularly, this project seeks to improve the understanding among policymakers and key stakeholders about the economic dependencies and interactions between each sector and ecosystem services & biodiversity, and their value to society. This understanding will make it possible to assess the economic tradeoffs between short-term productivity gains on the one hand and longer-term ecosystem impacts (which in turn might decrease agri-productivity in the future), and to design incentive mechanisms to facilitate greener and more sustainable outcomes.
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.
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.
Opportunities for Involvement
» Peer review
Draft submissions from the feeder studies on palm oil, livestock, inland fisheries and agro-forestry have recently been submitted, and we are looking for peer reviewers to conduct: a) a cross-cutting evaluation of the frameworks and methodologies applied, and b) individual peer reviews for each of the four studies.
Please note that this is an open, inclusive process in which we encourage organizations and individuals to contribute their time and effort in a pro bono capacity to review the studies. The deadline for reviews is 31 August 2015. If you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer, please write an e-mail to email@example.com with “Peer Review” in the subject line and Curriculum Vitae attached .
» Communications and Outreach
If your organization is involved in public and social outreach for any of the wide range of issues related to this project, and you are interested in helping us increase its visibility and reach, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Communications” in the subject line.
We are still actively seeking funding for future project activities. If your organization is interested in becoming a donor or receiving a project proposal from us, please write an e-mail to email@example.com with “Fundraising” in the subject line.
To contact TEEBAgFood team, please write to TEEB.AgFood@unep.org
TEEB Challenges and Responses
TEEB ‘s progress, challenges and responses towards mainstreaming the economics of nature. [ENG] [ESP]Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more