Natural History Museum announces earth debates

The Natural History Museum in London announces the launch of earth debates – flagship event series in preparation of Rio+20.

The vital role of our environment within our economy has been hidden until recently. Pollinating crops, balancing our water distribution and even providing genetic resources for our medicine are just a few examples of the life-support that natural resources provide. Yet with no market value, they are consumed freely.

Tools for calculating some of these natural services are now being developed in Ecosystem Economics and are already influencing global environmental policy. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study, launched in 2007 by the Federal Environment Ministry and commissioner for the Environment in the European Commission, transformed the way nature is valued, and the costs of its loss. For example, the report estimates the loss of bees and other insects pollinating our crops, to be 153 billion Euros every year, representing 9.5% of world agricultural output in 2005. This brings to light some key questions: What are the strengths of this emerging understanding and what are the risks? To what extent will the new economics of ecosystem services change our attitudes towards sustainable development?

Tackling these issues, in a ‘Question Time’ format, were panellists Professor Sir Robert Watson (Chief Scientific Advisor to Defra), Will Evison (Environmental Economist, PricewaterhouseCoopers), Ian Dickie (Director, Aldersgate Group) and Claire Brown (Senior Programme Officer Ecosystem Services and Assessment, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre). The panellists provided a rich range of insights from the scientific, policy, business and civil society perspectives. Held at the Natural History Museum and chaired by The Guardian’s Former Science Editor, Tim Radford, the debate was available via a live web-cast on the Natural History Museum website.

The Natural History Museum, Stakeholder Forum and The British Council launched the Earth Debates series to drive momentum and contribute to discussions surrounding the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio+20, happening in Brazil 20-22 June 2012. The direct descendent of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Rio+20 is being held at the highest political level and will bring together Heads of State and Government decision makers to generate a new global vision for sustainable development.

The next Earth Debate will focus on:

11 April 2012 Food security – how to feed the population in 2050?
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