This week in Natural Capital


Week 11- 15 August 2014, by Anna Heuberger,

Small Chinese cities steer away from GDP as measure of success

The article “Small Chinese cities steer away from GDP as measure of success”, published by the Financial Times on the 13th of August, states that “more than 70 Chinese smaller cities and counties have dropped gross domestic product as a performance metric for government officials, in an effort to shift the focus to environmental protection and reducing poverty.” The performance of local officials in China has often been linked to the GDP. This encouraged the implementation of unsustainable policies causing unequal distribution of wealth and environmental damage in order to boost short- term growth. The evaluation based on the GDP neglects long- term achievements towards a better living standard through “agricultural development and environmental protection”. In order to change the focus of officials metrics on these “hidden achievements” are being included in the measurement of success. “It is unclear whether the change will be taken up by larger, richer cities, where powerful patronage networks have developed between government officials and traditional industries that have become rich on the old growth model”. Mr Zang Gaoli, for example, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, won high recognition by stimulating GDP growth through “massive building projects” in the city of Tianjin. Nevertheless “many buildings stand virtually empty” and experts warn that the evolving housing bubble resulting from such projects is the ”Achilles’ heel of Chinese economy“. Click here to read this article on how Chinese cities want to boost sustainability and equality.

More headlines

Policy making

Swamped by rising seas, small islands seek a lifeline

Inter Press Service, August 11, 2014

The worlds 52 small island developing states (SIDS), some in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth because of sea-level rise triggered by climate change, will be the focus of an international conference in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa next month.


Ecosystems Are Not Machines

Ensia, August 12, 2014

If we want to save the world, we need to treat nature more as an organism and less as disposable and replaceable technology.

Stanford research shows value of clams, mussels in cleaning dirty water

Stanford, August 12, 2014

New Stanford research shows that bivalves can cleanse streams, rivers and lakes of potentially harmful chemicals that treatment plants can’t fully remove.


Fashion brands pledge to end sourcing fibres from endangered forests

The guardian, August 12, 2014

Your shirts and skirts may be made from the great forests of the world – the sylvan habitat of Indonesia’s orangutans or Canada’s caribou. Stella McCartney, H&M, Zara and Quiksilver commit to finding alternatives for forest fibres contributing to deforestation.

Deforestation, development may be driving Ebola outbreaks, experts say

ALJAZEERA, August 4, 2014

As the deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak continues its spread in West Africa, evidence suggests that human impact on the environment may have played a role in the latest epidemic.


Fighting Wildlife Crime to End Extreme Poverty and Boost Shared Prosperity

The World Bank, July 17, 2014

Environment and natural resource crimes threaten ecosystems, food security and livelihoods. The poor are usually the most affected.

Investing In Africa Climate Adaptation Also Aids Development

Clean Technica, August 14, 2014

African development and economic growth are being strangled by climate change, which poses major challenges to already fragile situations at the household, national, and regional levels.


annaThis weekly blog has the purpose to summarize and collect important stories and news on Natural Capital.


By Anna Heuberger, TEEB Communications and Outreach




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