Brazil Aims for Green Economy

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Brazil is leading the world in the pursuit of a ‘green’ economy. The Brazilian government is keen to use the findings of a new UN-backed study on how to profit from nature.

The three-year project by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) highlights the importance of ‘natural capital’ to companies in biodiversity-rich developing economies. More than 50 per cent of CEOs surveyed in Latin America and 45 per cent in Africa see the decline in biodiversity as a challenge to business growth.

Biodiversity loss is blamed on habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, over-exploitation and climate change. It is estimated that the negative environmental impact of the world’s top 3,000 listed companies total around £1.4 trillion every year.

The findings show that not only are businesses aware of the importance of protecting biodiversity, consumers are also increasingly conscious of protecting areas rich in plant and animal species.

A separate Teeb survey found that 60 per cent of people questioned in Europe and the US and over 90 per cent in Brazil were aware of biodiversity loss. Around 80 per cent of those asked said they would stop buying products from companies that are not ethical.

Purchasing of certified forest products and conservation grade or organic produce is predicted to soar by 200 per cent and 400 per cent respectively by 2020.

Study leader Pavan Sukhdev stressed the importance of turning the findings into real politics. He said the first thing for governments to do is to analyse the real value of ecosystem services to their economies.

To date, 27 governments from Africa and Latin America, and one from Asia, have approached the UNEP team for help in making their economies ‘green’. Braulio Dias, secretary for biodiversity and forests in Brazil's Environment Ministry, said: "The Teeb approach is very useful in making [companies] understand the implications of loss of biodiversity, and also the return on investment in terms of biodiversity conservation.”

The Teeb vision would see countries agreeing to incorporate biodiversity values into their economic incentives and taxes by 2020. They would also eliminate subsidies that are detrimental to biodiversity.

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