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The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity


The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is a global initiative focused on “making nature’s values visible”, to draw attention to the international economic benefits of biodiversity. Its objective is to highlight the growing costs of the loss of biodiversity and of environmental damage and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions. Their aim is to achieve this goal by following a structured approach to valuation that helps decision-makers recognize the wide range of benefits provided by ecosystems and biodiversity, demonstrate their values in economic terms and, where appropriate, suggest how to incorporate their findings into decisions made by businesses and governments worldwide.


"Change isn't happening on a grand scale, simply because the changes that are needed to protect our environment and health, do not – in our current system, increase profit for corporations" – Pavan Sukhdev


Human well-being is dependent upon "ecosystem services" provided by nature for free. Such services include water provision, air purification, fisheries, timber production and nutrient cycling, to name a few. These are predominantly public goods with no markets and no prices, so their loss often is not detected by our current economic incentive system and can thus continue unabated. A variety of pressures resulting from population growth, changing diets, urbanization, climate change and many other factors, is causing biodiversity to decline. The world’s poor are most at risk from the continuing loss of biodiversity, as they are the ones that are most reliant on the ecosystem services that are being degraded.


The TEEB initiative was launched in response to a proposal by the G8+5 Environment Ministers in Potsdam, Germany in 2007, to develop a global study on the economics of biodiversity loss. Estimates establish the cost of biodiversity and ecosystem damage expected to cost 18% of global economic output by 2050.

The TEEB study, led by Pavan Sukhdev an environmental economist and senior banker from Deutsche Bank, evaluates the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the associated decline in ecosystem services worldwide (those mechanisms within our ecosystems upon which our economies depend, like bees as pollinators –but have you ever received an invoice from a bee?), and compares them with the costs of effective conservation and sustainable use.
It intends to raise awareness of the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services and to facilitate the development of cost-effective policy responses and better informed decisions. Did you, for instance, know that the true costs of cattle ranching in South America are actually 18 times higher than the apparent costs?


TEEB has been conducted in three phases.


In the first phase various organizations contributed their resources, studies or expertise for study. The results of this study named "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" (TEEB) and the findings were presented in an Interim Report in May 2008.

The findings of the report were largely in three areas:

  1. the economic size and welfare impact of losses of ecosystems and biodiversity,
  2. the strong links between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health on the one hand and poverty elimination and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals on the other,
  3. and the ethical choices involved in selecting a social discount rate for discounting the benefits of ecosystems and biodiversity.


The second, more substantial, phase of the study produced one background report and several reports targeted towards specific categories of decision makers who are also potential users of evaluation tools for biodiversity and ecosystem services:


  • TEEB Ecological and Economic Foundations.
  • TEEB for National and International Policy Makers
  • TEEB for Local and Regional Policy
  • TEEB for Business
  • TEEB Synthesis Report

The final results of these reports were presented in 2010.

The Report for policymakers is aimed at better integrating biodiversity priorities into policy choices.


The focus of the ongoing third phase is on communication and outreach activities. The initiative has now moved into a phase of implementation at country level. This shift responds to numerous requests and interest by governments in both developed and developing countries to build national, regional and local government capacity to produce tailored economic assessments of ecosystems and biodiversity, and support to mainstream this information into policy-making. TEEB country support includes:

  • Developing guidance material on how to mainstream the value of ecosystems and biodiversity into decision-making at the country level.
  • Organizing workshops to build the capacity of national, regional and local stakeholders to produce tailored economic assessments of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Providing technical expertise to five pilot countries to undertake assessments of their ecosystems and biodiversity and mainstream this information into policy.


Watch the Video on TEEB.

Source: TEEB, European Commission



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Type of initiative Knowledge/advice organization, Information/network organization, Other (specify): Study, project, initiative
Field of work Politics, Knowledge and information, Environment
Date of commencement 2007
Founder(s) Pavan Sukhdeve
Legal form
Continent Europe
Country Switzerland
City Geneva
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Environment, policy-making, ecosystems, biodiversity, economy
Publications Study reports, videos, blogs, training resources, case studies, newsletter
More information Facebook, Twitter

Contact person(s)

David Díaz Martín, communication and information management


Contact information

Name The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
Address 11-13 Chemin des Anémones
Zip/postal code 1219 Châtelaine
Place Geneva
Country Switzerland
Phone +41 (0)22 917 8879



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