Building the case for biodiversity in South Africa

07 March 2011 | News story

IUCN Members meet to discuss the application of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) to South Africa.

The South Africa National Committee of IUCN Members met with IUCN Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, in Pretoria at the end of February 2011. Hosted by IUCN Member, the South African National Parks (SANPARKS), this quarterly meeting focused on discussing the relevance of TEEB to South Africa.

“TEEB has brought nature out of the shadow and into the mainstream of business and economics. What happens next is up to us - how we build on the results of this landmark study and how we convince others to take these arguments seriously”, said Marton-Lefèvre.

“Economic goals are the top priority of most governments, the raison d’être of business, and an abiding preoccupation of most individuals. By revealing the economic value of nature, TEEB can help us to increase public awareness and support for biodiversity conservation generally. This will also lead to improved decision-making”, she continued.

The Committee underlined that TEEB offers IUCN Members the opportunity to communicate conservation messages in a language that business people, economic policy-makers and citizens understand. The South African Members also discussed how solutions to the biodiversity crisis lie in the realm of economic policy - solutions including the allocation of property rights and access to natural resources, tax and public expenditure, consumer awareness and producer responsibility.

“IUCN cannot achieve its mission without a broad and deep engagement in economic debates and economic activity, at all levels,” said Marton-Lefevre.

South Africa is a country of extraordinary natural wealth and a long-standing tradition of sustainable use of natural resources, both of which make a strong case for applying TEEB. The Government of South Africa has set out a compelling vision for economic growth that seeks to address poverty, unemployment and inequality. A key part of this new ‘Growth Path’ is reducing unemployment by creating secure and sustainable jobs. As such, TEEB can help by revealing the potential economic and employment opportunities from investing in nature-based solutions, ecological infrastructure and biodiversity business.

Plans are now afoot to use the global TEEB studies as a basis for a TEEB study for South Africa that meets local needs. Fundisile Mketeni, Chair of the South Africa National Committee for IUCN Members underscored the importance of adapting TEEB to the country’s realities and invited all parts of IUCN to support the national TEEB study.

Representatives from 17 IUCN Members attended the meeting, along with the IUCN Councillor for Africa, Yolan Friedman; IUCN Regional Director, Ali Kaka; CEO of SANPARKS, David Mabunda and the Head of the IUCN Office in South Africa, Hastings Chikoko.

For further information please contact:

Hastings Chikoko, Head of Constituency Support and Communication, IUCN ESARO, t +27 12 342 8305, m +27 76 682 1587, e hastings.chikoko@iucn.org