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What We Do

About ecosystems

Preserving our Ecosystems

The corner-stone of integrated ecosystem management is to ensure that the “environmental dimension” of collaboration is solid and that ecosystems continue to be healthy and productive. Without this, other ecosystem management goals are threatened. The capacity to monitor ecosystems and ensure that this information continuously feeds into collaborative structures is critical for ecosystem management. Collaborative design and implementation of biodiversity strategies and action plans, the use of evidence- informed planning tools to design conservation area networks and ecosystem connectivity, as well as biodiversity conservation, is fundamental for integrated ecosystem management and in order to respond to climate change, disasters and unforeseen events.

What UNEP does to preserve our ecosystems

UNEP and its partners ensure access to knowledge and data on the state of our ecosystems. It produces:

  • World Database on Protected Areas, the most comprehensive global spatial dataset on marine and terrestrial protected areas available.
  • IBAT for Business, an innovative tool designed to facilitate access to accurate and up-to-date biodiversity information to support critical business decisions.

UNEP and its partners support the design and establishment of monitoring systems for ecosystem health and functioning, for example, the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership(BIP), a global initiative to develop and promote indicators for the consistent monitoring and assessment of biodiversity. UNEP and its partners support the development of biodiversity and conservation strategies, for example, through the

  • NBSAP Forum; a community of practice that offers countries support in transforming and implementing their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).
  • Building and sharing of know-how on ecosystem connectivity planning, protected areas, corridors, and transboundary conservation

UNEP supports species conservation: It hosts the Great Apes Survival Partnership , a United Nations initiative committed to ensuring the long-term survival of chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans and their habitats in Africa and Asia; as well as species conservation programmes for dugong and sharks.

Economics of Ecosystems

Our ecosystems provide water and food for billions of people while also protecting them from natural hazards and the worst impacts of climate change. Yet despite a growing number of assessments showing that ecosystem services are worth billions of dollars to national economies, most governments and businesses are still not including ecosystem valuations in policy decisions. A better understanding of our economic reliance on ecosystems can prompt behaviour change. Failure to recognize and account for the value of these goods and services in government and private sector decision-making has led to the unsustainable exploitation of ecosystems, triggering severe long-term social and economic costs which are increasingly reflected in insurance premiums, food prices, health incidents and even civil unrest.

What does UNEP do to include the value of ecosystems in decision-making?

  • promotes awareness of our dependence on ecosystems and their economic impact;
  • develops and promotes knowledge products and tools on how to value and account for ecosystem goods and services; and,
  • works with countries to build expertise on how to value and include natural capital in national statistics and as key criteria in policy-making.

UNEP participates in and leads partnerships to promote the science-policy interface through global initiatives and platforms, including: