Valuating Biodiversity for Informed Policy and Decision Making

Written by on December 16, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law

Editor’s Note — Cheryl Rita completed her MS in Marine Science, Policy and Law at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, UK. She is presently the Head of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment at the Maritime Institute of Malaysia.

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National symposium on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Malaysia: Valuating biodiversity for informed policy and decision making
Cheryl Rita Kaur

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report (2005) emphasised the importance of strengthening response options for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services aimed at improving human well-being and poverty reduction. These responses, however, would not be sufficient unless the indirect and direct drivers of change are addressed and the enabling conditions for implementation of responses established.

Damsel fishes and branching coral, Pulau Lima near Redang Island, Malaysia.

Damsel fishes and branching coral, Pulau Lima near Redang Island, Malaysia. Photo credit: WorldFish via photopin cc.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), released at the UN-CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) meeting at Nagoya, Japan in October 2010, allows countries to evaluate national policy priorities in terms of their ecosystem service dependencies and impacts, while identifying and valuing important ecosystem services and natural areas for changes in policies addressing national priorities and ecosystem service losses. Many countries have expressed interest in conducting national TEEBs and Malaysia has also taken steps in that direction.

This was reflected in the national symposium on TEEB organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia (NRE) on 27 November in Kuala Lumpur, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The forum aimed at sharing what the mechanism or tool entails and how the approach could be used effectively to provide guidance throughout the process, to actual policy analysis and ecosystem service valuations, communicating findings, as well as following up and applying results. The event attracted participants from governmental agencies, academia and non-governmental organisations. The author represented her institute at the event.

Besides a highlighting of common threats and biodiversity conservation needs by country representatives, case studies by regional bodies (e.g., UNDP and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity – ACB) and neighbouring countries shed light on the importance of undertaking the initiative as a leap forward on biodiversity protection and conservation. Being among the most biologically diverse countries in the world, Malaysia would need to be on par with developments taking place under the auspices of CBD and adopt suitable tools and implement strategies which could lead to sound achievements on biodiversity conservation for the terrestrial, coastal and marine areas in the country.

Although some actions have been taken on evaluating ecosystem services in Malaysia, some concerns remain. Among them are a greater need for capacity building, education and awareness among local communities, decision makers and politicians on the concept, and actual application of the processes involved by reviewing the national biodiversity policy and updating national CBD reports.

Overall, the forum provided a platform for experience-sharing and exchange of views on implementing TEEB as a forward-looking mechanism on biodiversity protection and conservation besides being an excellent avenue for networking among the various stakeholders with mutual interest on the matter.

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About The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)
“TEEB is a global initiative focused on drawing attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity.” TEEB helps decision-makers recognize the value of ecosystems and biodiversity and demonstrate that value so they can effectively be incorporated into the decision-making process.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

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