Germany’s contribution

Conserving biodiversity as a life-sustaining resource

Honey bees

Biodiversity is the basis for human food sources. We have this diversity to thank for the ingredients in many medicines, for soil formation and for water filtration, as well as for binding greenhouse gases and for adaptation to the consequences of climate change. It is a source of inspiration for innovation in architecture, medicine and technology. It also provides space for leisure activities, inspires artistic endeavours and has spiritual meaning in many religions.

Ecosystem services

The global initiative 'The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity' (TEEB) is designed to provide decision-makers with support in the form of academic analyses that will help them in recognising the value of biodiversity and giving it greater consideration in their decision-making. The initiative was launched by Germany, in collaboration with the EU Commission, during Germany’s 2007 presidency of the G8. It is being implemented by a number of different institutions under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

A few examples:

  • Coral reefs cover only 1.2 per cent of the continental shelf worldwide, but they provide a habitat for an estimated total of up to 3 million species, including a quarter of all species of marine fish. Furthermore, around 30 million coastal and island dwellers are fully dependent on reef ecosystems for food and income.
  • Calculations carried out in Switzerland revealed that the pollination work performed by bee populations secures agricultural production worth over 200 million euros a year. That is almost five times the income generated by honey production. The total economic value of pollination by insects across the world is estimated at around 265 billion euros (2009 figures).
  • In Canberra, Australia, 400,000 trees were planted to regulate the micro-climate, improve air quality, reduce energy use from air-conditioning and store carbon dioxide. The resulting gains for the city, in the form of additional benefits or reduced costs, were estimated at between 13.5 and 45 million euros for the period 2008 to 2012.

These examples illustrate the variety of ways in which humans benefit from healthy ecosystems. It is therefore incumbent upon policymakers to take ecosystem services into greater consideration and to promote the conservation of biodiversity across all sectors.

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