Why we need to value our ecosystem services
A recent report The Value of Land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management published 15th September by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (ELD) estimates the value of ecosystem services lost worldwide due to land degradation at a staggering US $6.3 trillion to $10.6 trillion annually, or the equivalent of 10-17% of global GDP. The report goes further to say that the effects of land degradation and desertification are distributed unevenly throughout the human populations, and often impact the most vulnerable – the rural poor – who largely depend on land for both sustenance and income.
This week the UN debated the progress made on the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals, agreed by 189 countries set out targets for achievement in hunger, poverty, education, health, sanitation and equality that have channelled development efforts in the last 10 years. They are much criticised but represent an unprecedented international agreement on what needs to be done to improve mankind's lot.
Photo: A Global Plant Clinic- CABI's latest development project to improve food security by losing less to pests
The question is what does the world do after 2015, the date set for achieving these goals – should we continue on the same tracks striving towards the same set of goals or does the lack of success in some areas mean we need a different approach?
A multidisciplinary commission made up of academics from London University colleges and their partners in developing countries led by Professor Jeff Waage of the London International Development Centre (LIDC) has pondered this and with the Lancet brought out a report last week with ideas for the future. I went up to London to find out more…