UNDP Launches “Latin America and the Caribbean: A Biodiversity Superpower” Report

Dec 2, 2011

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today launches the Regional Report “Latin America and the Caribbean: A Biodiversity Superpower”. The report is being launched on the occasion of the XX Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State in Argentina.

The main objective of the Report is to inform policy and decision makers of the contribution that biodiversity and ecosystem services make to the region’s development, equity and long-term competitiveness. The result of 2 years of research and multi-stakeholder consultations in the region, including Belize, the Report uses Business as Usual (BAU) and Sustainable Ecosystem Management (SEM) concepts for assessing the economic values of Ecosystem Services.

Findings of the research done in Belize dealing with Agroforestry / Silvopastoral systems of farm practice showed ecological benefits as being carbon sequestration, water provision, biodiversity protection, soil improvements, and crop pollination, and that “systems in Belize (have) shown to be more profitable than traditional systems” as regards economic benefits.

The Report presents innovative examples of public and private investment in biodiversity conservation and sustainable management currently taking place in several countries of the region. Heraldo Munoz, Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Director at the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean states “Our Region’s vast natural capital could become a real engine of growth and long term competitiveness…It presents an opportunity for Latin America and the Caribbean to lead as a natural knowledge economy, opening new markets, reenergizing sectors and growing profit centers.”

Conversely, the Report highlights the main types of costs that sectors and countries face from Ecosystem Services degradation resulting from BAU production practices including: reduced productivity from ES decline; off-site or downstream costs; perverse subsidies and incentives; lost public-sector revenues; and future increase in costs.

The new policies recommended promise to transform the traditional model of development—one that often disregards environmental costs into a new paradigm that recognises the value of services provided by healthy, fully functioning ecosystems.

UNDP Belize recommends the report to national stakeholders as it provides guidance on furthering the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 of Ensuring Environmental Sustainability. This report “is a major contribution to furthering scientific awareness of countries of the region, equipping them with analyses and policy recommendations, to implement in the national contexts” stated Dr. Francisco Roquette, Assistant Resident Representative.

This initiative was launched by the UNDP in partnership with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).