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10 May 2010

UN - Biodiversity crisis threatens global economy

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New report warns that accelerating biodiversity loss will undermine economic performance

The natural systems that underpin the global economy are at risk of " collapse" due to the accelerating loss of biodiversity, according to a shocking new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released earlier today.

The third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, which is based on a series of recent scientific assessments and national reports, confirms the world will miss the UN target to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 and warns that biodiversity loss could begin to have a sizable economic impact.

"Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of 6 billion [people], heading to over 9 billion by 2050," said Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP. " Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet."

Drawing on an international project known as the The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) that is attempting to put a financial value on the services provided by biodiversity, the report warns that dwindling fish stocks, deforestation, and soil erosion for example are all having negative economic impacts.

It also warns that numerous ecosystems are approaching "tipping points", noting how the "dieback" of the Amazon rain forest could serve to accelerate climate change, while the bleaching of coral reefs is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people in the fishing and tourism industries.


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