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UWI hosts Caribbean-wide training in the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity

For Release Upon Receipt - April 12, 2011

St. Augustine

Few people realize that the Latin America and Caribbean region holds almost one half of the world’s tropical forests, the second biggest coral barrier reef, and an amazing diversity of species (41 per cent of its birds and 50 per cent of its amphibians). In other words, the region is endowed with exceptionally rich biodiversity and its countries are keen to harvest benefits from the sustainable use of that biodiversity, to promote social and economic growth and equality. It is the region with the greatest biological diversity on the planet and decision makers at all levels now recognize nature’s contribution to human livelihoods, health, security, and culture. 

From March 28th to 31st, 2011, Government representatives from the Ministries of Environment, Finance, Planning and Economy of 13 Caribbean countries, came together at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus, to strengthen their capacities in estimating the economic and social benefits of the rich biodiversity and ecosystems of this region, as well as the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. 

The final report of the study on “the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity ‘Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature,’” was launched at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. Just five months after its publication, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the sub-regional capacity-building course on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Caribbean countries. With the support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Department of Life Sciences at The UWI, this event was fully subscribed, with nominations from the majority of Caribbean countries, demonstrating the importance of the valuation of the region’s natural capital and its relevance for the development of the Caribbean.  

“In the past only traditional sectors such as manufacturing, mining, retailing, construction and energy generation were uppermost in the minds of economic planners and ministers of finance, development and trade. TEEB has brought to the world’s attention that nature’s goods and services are equal, if not far more central, to the wealth of nations including the poor – a fact that will be increasingly the case on a planet of finite resources with a population set to rise to nine billion people by 2050,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, at the CBD COP10. The workshop will increase the capacities of high-level professionals in the Caribbean region to conduct studies on the economics of the ecosystems and biodiversity at the country level. During the four days, experts from the Caribbean drew knowledge from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions for promoting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.  

Mr. David Bynoe, a representative from Barbados, said that, “this course facilitated the dissemination of a practical framework for environmental valuation in the form of TEEB to policy makers across the Caribbean region. As a result of this, the streamlining of the approach to environmental economics within the region could be achieved.”

“At UWI St Augustine we’re very proud to be involved in this UNEP TEEB initiative,” said Professor Andrew Lawrence, Chair of Environmental Biology at the Department of Life Sciences. “Participants will now be following up the workshop training back in their own countries and, through on-line collaboration, will be the first region in the world to explore the incorporation of TEEB into national accounting in a truly south-south initiative.”   

To find out more, please contact Professor Andrew Lawrence at 662-2002 ext 3739.


About TEEB 

The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity is a study hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that captured international attention on the economic importance of the world's natural assets. TEEB produced several reports that brought the economic importance of the world's ecosystems firmly on the political radar.TEEB has documented not only the multi-trillion dollar importance to the global economy of the natural world, but the kinds of policy-shifts and smart market mechanisms that can embed fresh thinking and seeing the potential of incorporating the value of nature into decision-making.  


About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.



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