Policy-makers who factor the planet's multi-trillion dollar ecosystem services into their national and international investment strategies are likely to see far higher rates of return and stronger economic growth in the 21st century, a new UN-backed report says. Some countries have already made the link to a limited extent and are glimpsing benefits in terms of jobs, livelihoods and economic returns that outstrip those wedded to older economic models of the previous century. The new report, prepared by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), calls on policy-makers to accelerate, scale-up and embed investments in the management and restoration of ecosystems. It also calls for more sophisticated cost benefit analysis before policy-decisions are made. The report cites a study on mangroves in south Thailand on the conversion of mangroves into shrimp farms. Subsidised commercial shrimp farms can generate returns of around US$1,220 per hectare by clearing mangrove forests. But this does not take into account the losses to local communities totalling over US$12,000 a hectare linked with wood and non-wood forest products, fisheries and coastal protection services. Nor does the profit to the commercial operators take into account the costs of rehabilitating the abandoned sites after five years of exploitation � estimated at over US$9,000 a hectare. The report outlines a ten-point plan aimed at catalysing a transition to more ecosystem savvy economies able to meet the multiple challenges and deliver the multiple opportunities on a planet of six billion people, rising to nine billion by 2050.


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