More Nations Pricing Biodiversity: India & Norway Will Publish Natural Wealth Account Data

india forest photo

photo: Paul Evans/Creative Commons

Slowly, the notion that all those ecosystem services like mangroves protecting coastal towns from hurricanes, rainforests helping bring more rain, and trees scrubbing away air pollution, are actually worth something to society in financial terms is gaining some traction. At the ongoing biodiversity summit in Nagano, Japan both India and Norway have committed to publishing data on the state of their natural wealth alongside more usual economic indicators like GDP:On India's announcement, via The Guardian:

The announcement is due to be made at a meeting of world governments in Japan to try to halt global destruction of biodiversity, and it is hoped that such a move by a major developing economy will prompt other countries to join the initiative.

Work on agreeing common measures, such as the value of ecosystems and their "services" for humans - from relaxation to clean air and fertile soils - will be co-ordinated by the World Bank, which hopes it can sign up 10-12 nations and publish the results by 2015 at the latest.

The move fulfils one of the key demands of a major report also being published today at the Japan meeting, a UN study of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) .

And, via The Globe and Mail on Norway's commitment:

The "Nature Index of Norway", worked out this year and to be presented at UN talks on biological diversity in Japan next week, shows that seas, coastal waters, freshwater and mountains are in a good state but forests and lowlands are suffering.

Oslo says it has used 309 indicators to get what it calls the "world's first official index of nature" comparing 2010 to 2000 and 1990. Scores for 2010 range from about 0.8 for freshwater, where 1.0 is ideal, to just above 0.4 for forests. "Many fjords have been cleaned up and a lot of industrial pollution has gone," deputy environment minister Heidi Soerensen said of improving water quality.

I have some conceptual reservations about overly pushing pricing of biodiversity and ecosystem services as it may well reinforce notions of commodification, but nevertheless both India and Norway have taken very important steps in the right direction.

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More on Ecosystem Services:
More Corn = $58 Million in Lost Ecosystem Services, More Aphids, Fewer Ladybugs
Wealthy Countries Should Pay 'Rainforest Utility Bills' for Ecosystem Services Rendered: Prince Charles
Why the World Must Not Consider Nature 'Priceless'
Businesses & Consumers Just Beginning to Recognize Economic Cost of Biodiversity Loss

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