Brazilian government values its environment at US$2 trillion

The first country in the world to estimate its own environmental worth in economic terms, has said that it accounts for 10% of the globe’s environmental heritage.

The governmental Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) announced on 11 September that, following long-term assessment of the nation’s seven ecosystems, the total financial value of Brazil’s biodiversity is US$2.072 trillion, or roughly four times the annual GDP.

Those responsible for the project believe that by assigning a monetary value to natural resources it will not only enable environmental accounting to be integrated into traditional accounting systems, but will also help to preserve ecosystems and natural resources.

One way in which this could be done would be to accept investment in forest ecosystems from pharmaceutical companies keen to develop drugs from rainforest resources. Brazil is keen to do this, as at present it receives no financial reward from companies who already exploit the forests. The government will thus be able to calculate and charge compensation to companies already exploiting Brazil’s resources, especially in the Amazon region.

The Brazilian government also now hopes to use the financial value of its resources as an added bargaining chip internationally. In the past, the country has continually argued that, owing to the value of the Amazon rainforest globally, developed countries should contribute to its protection.

The study was carried out by the Environmental Accountability Project, an IBAMA directive, together with several Brazilian universities and scientific research centres. It surveyed those areas with the greatest concentration of biodiversity in the country including the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest wetlands, the Pantanal, and the most threatened ecosystem of all, the Atlantic rainforest.

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