Multi-trillion-dollar ecosystem services can boost local economies and quality of life
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 10, 2010 (IPS)
What do New York City, Vienna, Quito and Rio de Janeiro have in common? They all get their high quality drinking water through aqueducts connected to protected areas in nearby hills and mountains.
Twenty years ago, a rapidly expanding New York City determined it was far cheaper to protect and restore the source of its water supply, the Catskill/Delaware forests and wetlands, than spend six to eight billion dollars on a water treatment plant.
Cities are dependent on nature. There are many examples of how the ecosystem services provided by nature can provide cost-effective solutions for local municipal services, according to a new major study titled “TEEB report for Local and Regional Policy Makers” released Thursday in India, Brazil, Belgium, Japan and South Africa.
However, the study notes that few politicians and public officials realise that factoring in the planet’s multi-trillion-dollar ecosystem services into their policy-making can help save cities and regional authorities’ money while boosting the local economy, enhancing quality of life, securing livelihoods and generating employment.
“All economic activity and most of human well-being whether in an urban or non-urban setting is based on a healthy, functioning environment,” said Pavan Sukhdev, study leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme. Continue reading