UN Says Case for Saving Species 'More Powerful Than Climate Change'

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The economic
case for global action to stop the destruction of the natural world
is even more powerful than the argument for tackling climate change,
a major report for the United Nations will declare this summer.

Stern report on climate change
, which was prepared for the UK
Treasury and published in 2007, famously claimed that the cost of
limiting climate change would be around 1%–2% of annual global wealth,
but the longer-term economic benefits would be 5–20 times that figure.

The UN’s biodiversity
report – dubbed the Stern for Nature – is expected to
say that the value of saving "natural goods and services",
such as pollination, medicines, fertile soils, clean air and water,
will be even higher – between 10 and 100 times the cost of
saving the habitats and species which provide them.

To mark the
UN’s International Day for Biological
, hundreds of British companies, charities and other
organisations have backed an open letter from the Natural History
Museum’s director Michael Dixon warning that "the diversity
of life, so crucial to our security, health, wealth and wellbeing
is being eroded".

The UN report’s
authors go further with their warning on biodiversity, by saying
if the goods and services provided by the natural world are not
valued and factored into the global economic system, the environment
will become more fragile and less resilient to shocks, risking human
lives, livelihoods and the global economy.

"We need
a sea-change in human thinking and attitudes towards nature: not
as something to be vanquished, conquered, but rather something to
be cherished and lived within," said the report’s author, the
economist Pavan Sukhdev.

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25, 2010

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