News / Africa

UN Says 'Save The Environment, Save Money'

UN Says 'Save The Environment, Save Money'
UN Says 'Save The Environment, Save Money'
Mike Sunderland

Investing in environmental initiatives can have major economic benefits and aid development in poorer countries according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program.  The report, released Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya, says restoring damaged eco-systems can trigger multimillion dollar returns, generate jobs and combat poverty.

The U.N. report says eco-systems are the natural infrastructure upon which we all depend. Their crucial services range from food and medicines, to regulating water and protecting against extreme weather.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi, UNEP Deputy Director Tim Kasten said governments have been overlooking the financial benefits they can also offer.

"The value of these services goes beyond what we consider to be real economic value," he said. "Nonetheless, we do need to take into account the economic value and speak the language that decision makers often speak, which is the language of economy."

With around two-thirds of the world's eco-systems damaged, the report says it is not enough to simply protect those that remain. The U.N. is calling on world leaders to invest in restoration projects to re-establish as many of these natural functions as possible.

The report highlights restoring water flows to rivers and lakes, improving the condition of soil for agriculture and fighting climate change as three ways to enhance natural capital.

However, the cost of large-scale projects has occasionally caused governments, particularly in developing countries, to shy away from restoration. But UNEP says improving eco-systems will in fact be beneficial to national economies in the long term.

Kasten highlights natural wetlands, of which half have been destroyed worldwide, as having an economic value of $7 trillion per year. Natural wastewater treatment systems, he says, are more than 20 times more cost effective than man-made alternatives.

"All together, these services [ecological infrastructure services to humanity]  are providing up to $70 trillion per year, it is in fact a very significant contribution," he said.

UNEP spokesperson Nick Nuttall says environmental assets are virtually invisible in national and international accounts. The value of these natural resources, he says, should figure in every government's economic and planning decisions.

"Unless you can give them the full suite of choices, in terms of why to build a road and not build a road or build port or not build a port, until you can factor biodiversity and the eco-system's natural assets into the economics, UNEP's position is that we're always going to struggle," he said.

UNEP points out that repairing environmental damage will generate jobs and fight poverty in a world where 1.3 billion people are either unemployed or not earning enough to get by. Healthy eco-systems, the report says, are not an added benefit to economic security, but rather a fundamental requirement.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs