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Speaking Points for Angela Cropper, UNEP Deputy Executive Director at Press Conference Announcing Partnership between UNEP and PUMA

Nairobi, 6 January 2010 - Every year the world economy loses between $2 trillion to $5 trillion.

You might imagine I am referring to the recent financial and economic crisis.

But I instead it is a reference to the loss of the Earth's natural assets or natural capital.

In other words the loss of ecosystems such as forests and freshwaters and the loss of biodiversity-the animals, plants and living organisms: the building blocks of those ecosystems.

In developing countries, such as those in Africa, these multi-trillion dollar losses are especially significant.

Large percentages of the population are directly reliant on the services generated by nature for their livelihoods and even their very survival.

For those of us in the international community who have worked closely on this issue for many years, 2010 has special resonance.

This is the year by which it had been agreed to 'reverse the rate of loss of biodiversity'.

It has not happened. It has to start happening now in the UN's International Year of Biodiversity ? 2010/

Thus UNEP welcomes this partnership with PUMA-the private sector has a role and a responsibility in respect to biodiversity alongside of course governments, civil society and the individual citizen.

Part of UNEP's role and responsibility to the biodiversity challenge is assessing and bringing the economics into play.

The $2 trillion to $5 trillion losses I mentioned earlier come from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted by UNEP.

It is work in progress, funded by the European Commission, Germany, Norway and the UK, that will culminate in a final report towards the end of 2010.

It would be wrong to simply boil down biodiversity and the Earth's natural assets to mere dollar and cents or shillings.

But part of the failures of the past are rooted in the failure of society to grasp the economic importance of biodiversity and nature's services when compared with other sectors of the economy.



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