Nature provides a multitude of services for humankind e.g. food, fibers, fuel, clean water, healthy soils, flood protection, protection against soil erosion, pharmaceutics, carbon storage and so on. Although human wellbeing fully depends on such ecosystem services they are mostly not valued in an economic sense, there are no markets for them and they do not appear in economic accounting.
A high rate of loss and damage of biodiversity is a reality around the world, driven by such factors as unsustainable use, population increase, urbanization and others. If the pressure on ecosystems increases we run the risk of losing many of the ecosystem services and will suffer from the consequences.
In 2007 the German Minister for the environment, Sigmar Gabriel and the responsible member of the EU commission, Stavros Dimas, initiated an initiative to better understand the true economic values of the services we get from nature. This is the TEEB initiative. Under the guidance of the Indian economic expert Pavan Sukhdev information on the economic use of biodiversity was collected globally, in order to calculate what the costs of the loss of biodiversity really are. This does not include only the monetary value of biodiversity and ecosystems but also other values like cultural and esthetic values.
According to the TEEB study the about 100.000 protected areas in the world alone deliver ecosystem services of 4.4 to 5.2 billion US-Dollars a year. This amount is higher than the annual turnovers of car production, steel industry or the IT-service sector.
On the TEEB-Website you can find the TEEB reports addressing different target groups.