Oceans & Coasts

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Ocean ecosystems are probably the least understood, most biologically diverse, and most undervalued of all ecosystems. From deep oceans to coastal reefs, from mudflats to sea grass beds, ocean and marine systems suffer from a lack of recognition of the economic value of their ecosystem services – including vital services such as carbon capture for climate mitigation, and providing livelihoods and protein for over a billion people in the developing world. Valuing these 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.

A ‘TEEB for Oceans &Coasts’ study will be led by the UNEP Regional Seas Programme, in partnership with GRID-Arendal and the UNEP TEEB Office. The project will seek to draw attention to the economic benefits of ocean and coastal biodiversity and healthy ecosystems and emphasize the unrealized benefits of preserved and enhanced whole ecosystem structures, functions and processes to the well-being of humans and nature. In order to achieve this, it will bridge the gaps in knowledge on ocean ecosystem services and functions and support the mainstreaming of biodiversity and ecosystem considerations into both national policy-making and broader societal perspectives.


Project components

The project will consist of four key components:

Consensus building amongst decision-makers and scientists on a set of relevant and context-appropriate assessment and valuation approaches and methodologies (including sectoral and natural capital assessments and ocean wealth mapping) that enable policy transformation.

1. Creating a community of the willing utilizing proofs of concept to illustrate the feasibility for governments and other stakeholders to incorporate component 1 methodologies (including the mapping of ocean wealth) into transformative development policies.

2. Catalyze relevant enabling conditions to facilitate policy and decision-making reforms that incorporate the socio-economic-ecological value of marine ecosystems and their services throughout the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, LME commissions and other existing regional policy platforms.

3. Participatory process design and facilitation, knowledge management, communications, outreach and replication strategy, that targets diverse audiences to enable behavioural and decision making changes.

Relevant materials 

IMAGEWhy Value the Oceans? – A discussion paper (February 2012) [Download]
Edited by Yannick Beaudoin & Linwood Pendleton.

Oceans cover almost three-quarters of the planet, yet we are just beginning to discover the extent of the resources, both biotic and abiotic, that lie beneath their surfaces. We are also just beginning to understand the complexity of the interactions that tie oceans to the rest of Earth’s systems. And then there is the coastal biome, where vital ecosystem services are most vulnerable. The coastal biome’s links with both land and ocean extend its reach and vulnerability both far inland and well out to sea.



TEEB for Oceans and Coasts coverProject info brochure (March 2013) [Download]

Release Date:  March 2013

This informative brochure outlines the rationale, objectives and main components of the proposed TEEB for Oceans and Coasts project.




IMAGEOceans and Coasts Knowledge Portal – www.teeboceans.org

The Knowledge Portal consists of a web-based platform to monitor, over the long term, the changes in value of ocean and coastal ecosystem services around the world. It will also promote information and knowledge sharing, assist capacity building facilitation and provide a platform for continued knowledge development. The aim of the portal is to help provide end-users with a resource to explore, evaluate, synthesize, and learn about ocean and coastal ecosystem valuation at multiple levels of details. Using ocean and coastal ecosystem valuation research results to inform the decision making process concerning policies or specific measures needed to support a new/green economic paradigm is a challenging, yet crucial, undertaking.

The Knowledge Portal contains environmental, natural/physical scientific, socio-economic and social-ecological datasets amongst others. It will also contain synthesis products of the TEEB for Oceans and Coasts study, tailored for specific user-focused functions for a particular country, region, site or business. The Portal will also provide intelligent links to other resources and tools.

Relevant meetings and events

World Ocean Summit 2013 – Singapore (22-24 February 2013)
World Ocean Summit 2015 – Cascais, Portugal (3-5 June 2015)


Related Initiatives

Global Ocean Commission

GOCMost of the ocean, amounting to nearly half of the Earth’s surface, belongs to no individual country. Management and governance of these areas – the high seas – fall short of the standards needed in the 21st Century.

The independent Global Ocean Commission has been established to chart a way forward for the high seas, to identify challenges and threats, and to highlight reforms that will allow the ocean to be managed effectively, productively and sustainable for the maximum benefit to humankind.

The objective of the Commission is to formulate politically and technically feasible short-, medium- and long-term recommendations to address four key issues facing the high seas: i) overfishing; ii) large-scale loss of habitat and biodiversity; iii) the lack of effective management and enforcement; and iv) deficiencies in high seas governance. Given the importance of ocean ecosystem services in the Earth system, the current and growing threats to fisheries, biodiversity and habitat, and the potential for new uses of the high seas, a report that will highlight the economic benefits of biodiversity and ecosystems and the costs associated with their loss has been sought as a key document to help guide these recommendations.


Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative

Logo vers?o2.pdf

The Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative (GOI) is working towards protection, conservation and good management of the oceans and of marine ecosystems. It supports scientific research on the economic valuation of marine ecosystem services. It is raising awareness to increase public understanding of the value of oceans for human well-being and economic development. And it promotes policy action by mobilizing policy-makers and decision-makers at the local, national and EU levels to integrate the economic value of marine ecosystem services into their regular activities and decision-making processes.

The GOI is a five-year program of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation that will promote activities in three domains – research, public understanding, and policy action – with the overall goal of increasing public and political understanding of marine ecosystem services as strategic assets for sustainable economic development and for human well-being. GOI will seek to create strong links with TEEB, NCP and WAVES, and develop synergies with these and other projects that can be mutually beneficial.

[Download info brochure]


Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management in Pacific Island Countries and Atolls – (MACBIO)


Natural resources in marine and coastal areas are of high economic importance for Pacific island countries and sustain the livelihoods of coastal communities. However, the need to conserve and use marine resources sustainably is not sufficiently reflected in national planning processes, due in part to a lack of information regarding their economic value. Existing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have often been developed opportunistically, lack a clear design and spatial planning process, and are not managed in a way to secure associated biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) for a period of five years, the MACBIO project will undertake economic assessments of marine and coastal ecosystems in five project countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) in a national and on regional level compatible to the global TEEB program in order to contribute to national development plans. The project aims to assist governments to extend re-designed MPA networks using seascape-level planning and will demonstrate effective approaches to site management, including payment for ecosystem services. Tried and tested concepts and instruments will be shared with governments and stakeholders throughout the Pacific community and disseminated internationally. MACBIO is implemented by the German Agency for International Development (GIZ) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and IUCN.


Latest Publications

Measuring what matters in agriculture and food systems: a synthesis

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) (2018). Measuring what matters in agriculture and food systems: a synthesis of the results and recommendations of TEEB for Agriculture and Food’s Scientific and Economic Foundations report. Geneva: UN Environment. Download report

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Scientific and Economic Foundations Report

The TEEBAgriFood ‘Scientific and Economic Foundations’ report addresses the core theoretical issues and controversies underpinning the evaluation of the nexus between the agri-food sector, biodiversity and ecosystem services and externalities including human health impacts from agriculture on a global scale. It argues the…

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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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