Investing in conservation can bring huge financial returns, according to a new report from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study. The TEEB study, backed by the United Nations, grew from a 2007 meeting of the environment ministers of the G8 nations and five major newly developing countries. The study’s mission was to “analyze 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.” Based on the principles of ecological economics, TEEB is the first study to evaluate ecosystem services—which are the services that the natural world provides society for free, such as cleaning the air, buffering against storms, or providing materials for growth.

The TEEB study will issue five reports, each targeted to specific categories of decision-makers. On 13 November 2009, the first TEEBS report for policymakers was released. This report focused on the value of halting deforestation, protecting coral reefs, and restoring global fisheries. It also explored the link between ecosystem degradation and rural poverty. The results show that investing in ecosystem protection can be very cost-effective. The natural environment provides a wide variety of services across many economic sectors. In many cases, ecosystem services are cheaper than technological solutions.

The report outlines key challenges confronting policy makers. The report is available at


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