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November 23rd, 2012
The German Federal Agency For Nature Conservation Endorses Payments For Ecosystem Services

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Nature has its price, but seldom do we pay for its use. Because ecosystem services such as clean water, pollination, climate regulation or coastal protection often do not cause any costs for businesses, the depletion of these services is not considered. And yet, society and businesses are equally affected by the consequences of losing  ecosystem services. In order to raise businesses’ awareness for the value of “natural capital”, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) organises a thematic session as part of the SusCon to discuss a financing mechanism called Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) that offers an opportunity to safeguard nature’s services.

Nature absorbs carbon dioxide and provides clean air as well as oases for stressed city dwellers. Insects alone perform a yearly economic pollination service worth 110 billon euros. This is one of many recognized insights into the value of nature for the economy and society that the TEEB Study(The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) has compiled. Businesses and consumers use the abundant supply of natural capital, but often without caring about its sustainability. There is still a lack of understanding and incentives for businesses to invest in the conservation of ecosystems.

According to the BfN, too few businesses that rely on natural resources are actively engaged in conserving ecosystem services, especially because they don’t see the relevance of preserving them to their business. Yet, biodiversity is often the foundation of the existence of business and companies depend on water, wood, land, or other natural resources just like consumers.

Therefore, the BfN supports endeavours of businesses as well as consumers, to pay for the use of ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water purification or the provision of food to guarantee their continuous supply. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) should flow directly back into the conservation of ecosystems in order to ensure lasting preservation of natural capital.

PES should be voluntary, for a clearly defined ecosystem service that is in demand by at least one “buyer” and offered by at least one “seller”. The seller should ensure the lasting delivery of the ecosystem service. The BfN stresses the potential for more PES schemes, not only to sequester carbon or in terms of conserving water resources, but also to safeguard biodiversity. It endorses that more businesses get involved and bring their own ideas to this concept.

During the thematic session “Payments for Ecosystem Services – A way for companies to ensure nature’s services as a foundation of their business” business and NGO representatives will discuss with experts on how biodiversity conservation can be better integrated into payment models. The central questions are:

  • What range of PES exists and how can we generate added benefits for the preservation of biodiversity?
  • How can PES be made attractive to businesses?
  • What are the success factors of already established PES schemes and how can they be transferred?
  • What kind of partnerships between NGOs and businesses are necessary for the purpose of turning PES into a lasting source of funding for the protection of nature?

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