September 15, 2005
- Spending to protect the environment, from coral reefs
to forests, can bring big returns to aid a worldwide assault
on poverty, a UN-backed report said on Wednesday.
study, coinciding with a summit of world leaders in New
York, even suggested that forests may be more valuable
when left standing rather than being cleared for crops
because trees can absorb the heat-trapping gases widely
blamed for global warming.
"The environment...is not a luxury good, only affordable
when all other problems have been solved," said Klaus
Toepfer, head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which
was among 30 international groups behind the report.
study estimated that annual investments of $60-$90 billion
in the environment over 10-15 years were needed to reach
a world goal of halving the proportion of humanity living
on less than a dollar a day, currently more than a billion
further $80 billion a year was needed to limit global
warming, widely linked to gases from burning fossil fuels
in factories, cars and power plants, over the next 50
invested, it said that every dollar spent on clean water
and sanitation in the Third World, for instance, could
bring $14 in benefits ranging from lower health care costs
to higher work productivity and school attendance.
of habitats and ecosystems are also cost effective when
compared with the short-term profits from environmentally
damaging activities" including dynamite fishing,
mining or deforestation, it said.
dollar invested in fighting land degradation and desertification,
like building terraces to stop hillside erosion, could
generate at least $3 in benefits, the Poverty Environment
Partnership report estimated.
CORALS BEAT DYNAMITE
every dollar invested in protecting coral reefs could
generate $5, ranging from scuba-diving tourism to renewable
could play a role in slowing climate change because trees
absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.
carbon storage or 'sequestration' potential of forests
ranges between $360 and $2,200 per hectare which makes
them worth far more than if they are converted to grazing
or cropland," UNEP said.
the study said that it becomes far more cost effective
to conserve forests than to clear them once carbon prices
exceed $30 a tonne.
a European Union market, launched this year as part of
a UN plan to curb global warming, carbon dioxide emission
allowances trade at about 22 euros ($27.03) per tonne.
report also pointed to other ways to place a value on
the environment. Brazilian farmers in parts of the Amazon
turned to forest nuts and berries when their crops failed,
for instance, making the forests a "nature-based