The conservation of biodiversity, key to the future of the Catalan economy

17 de January 2020

During the second day organized by CREAF, the College of Economists and the Department of Territory on the IPBES report it became clear that the estimated cost of protecting biodiversity in Catalonia is 129 million euros per year. year. In Spain, 0.19% of GDP should be invested in the Natura 2000 network. A network that also generates 187,093 direct jobs and 401,906 indirect ones.

Inauguration of the day with, Ferran Miralles, Director General of Environmental Policies and Natural Environment of the Department of Territory and Sustainability, Oriol Amat The Vice Dean of the College of Economists of Catalonia and Ramon Roca, Chairman of the Advisory Board for Sustainable Development of the Generalitat de Catalunya (from right to left).

Opening of the day with, Ferran Miralles, Director General of Environmental Policies and Natural Environment of the Department of Territory and Sustainability, Oriol Amat The Vice Dean of the College of Economists of Catalonia and Ramon Roca, Chairman of the Advisory Board for Sustainable Development of the Generalitat de Catalunya (from right to left). Image: CREAF.

“So far we have shown that we can grow and generate wealth, but also that we haven’t been able to distribute this wealth well or grow in a sustainable way” warned Oriol Amat, vice dean of the College of Economists of Catalonia, at the conference “Prosperity without nature? ” which was organized yesterday at the headquarters of the College in Barcelona. Ferran Miralles, Director General of Environmental Policies and the Natural Environment of the Catalan government, added that “our country is not escaping the accelerated loss of biodiversity and the emergency situation that our planet is experiencing in this area. We need to start talking about concepts that relate nature and the economy, such as natural capital.”

The Economics and Sustainability Commission of the College of Economists of Catalonia, the Department of Territory and Sustainability, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development (CADS), the CREAF ecology research center and the Center for Forest Science and Technology de Catalunya (CTFC) organized this day yesterday with the aim of analyzing the impact of biodiversity loss on the economy.

The day of debate, which also had the participation of the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA – UAB), is the second organized as a result of the dissemination of the report of the Intergovernmental Scientific-Political Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that warns of the devastating effects on biodiversity of current production and consumption systems, with more than one million animal and plant species at risk of extinction around the world. The study of this independent body, created in 2012 by several UN agencies and made up of 130 governments, is the most relevant to date on the state of nature of the planet.

The Vice Dean of the College of Economists of Catalonia (CEC), Oriol Amat, the President of the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Ramon Roca, and the Director General of Environmental Policies and Natural Environment of the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Ferran Miralles, inaugurated the day moderated by Lluís Brotons, researcher of the CREAF and the CTFC.

Oriol Amat emphasized that “until recently, studies in economics did not delve into variables that are now considered, such as the dimension of sustainability”. The vice-dean of the College of Economists of Catalonia and professor at Pompeu Fabra University added that “sustainability affects all dimensions of the economy and business” and as an example stressed that currently many companies they already make a triple account of results considering the financial part but also the one of the social and environmental results”.

In his speech, Ramon Roca considered the meeting very important because “we need to find ways to grow respecting the biodiversity we have.” Roca expressed the “commitment of the CADS to continue working against the loss of biodiversity” and put the institution at the service of civil society and citizens to advance in this goal, as a government body in charge of implementing the objectives of the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations.

On the other hand, Ferran Miralles emphasized the importance of it being published for the first time a global report on the state of nature and put figures on the state of conservation of habitats and species in Catalonia (in Catalan and Spanish). Focusing on the economic dimension, he made it clear that we need to start talking about concepts such as “natural capital”; of the ecosystem services that nature provides to society and that are essential to our well-being and our economy; the economic costs of not conserving nature and the need to take them into account when assessing the cost and benefit of any initiative; and the need to propose a conservation policy not focused on the protection of spaces but on business projects based on generating new or more nature. Finally, he explained what actions the Government is taking to improve the financing of conservation policies, including the launch, this year, of the Natural Heritage Fund.

Victoria Reyes “according to the report, of nature's 18 contributions to society, only 3 are evolving positively: the production of food, energy and materials.”
The first presentation of the day was given by the ICREA Research Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) Victoria Reyes-García, who presented the great conclusions of the IPBES Global Biodiversity Conservation Status Report. Reyes-García pointed out that “the report has been prepared for 3 years by 500 scientists and is based on the premise that the economy cannot be analyzed independently, it must be seen in relation to the nature“. The professor explained that the first conclusion of the report is that “nature is behind and is essential to develop any economic or social activity, as it is crucial for life on earth.” Reyes-García added that “according to the report, of the 18 contributions of nature to society, only 3 are evolving positively: the production of food, energy and materials” and stressed that “nature and biodiversity are they are deteriorating at a scale and speed unprecedented in human history. ” He also commented that the report concludes that “not much progress has been made in meeting the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Conservation Objectives as only progress has been observed in 4 and these do not address the causes of soil degradation. nature”. Reyes-García concluded that the report states that “it is not too late to act globally and taking into account the interconnections between the various economic sectors.”
Victoria Reyes durant la seva presentació

Victoria Reyes during her presentation.

The biodiversity and development consultant Santiago Fernández García-Velilla focused on the economic impact of biodiversity. First of all, he recalled that “the protection of biodiversity in Spain is largely conveyed through the Natura 2000 network, a European ecological network of biodiversity conservation areas”. Fernández García-Velilla said that “in Spain, Natura 2000 does not have the necessary budget” and stated that “this should be 1,850 million euros a year, which would account for 0.19% of the GDP ”. The biodiversity and development consultant said that “investing this amount would generate 8,277 million euros a year, obtaining a positive cost-benefit balance of 6,427 million euros.” Thus, “every euro invested in the Natura 2000 Network produces a return of € 4.5″ and added that “if we consider the economic value of the carbon stored in the network, each euro invested would provide a return of at least € 22”. Santiago Fernández García-Velilla emphasized that the Natura 2000 network in Spain generates 187,093 direct jobs and 401,906 indirect jobs. Fernández García-Velilla also stated that “in Catalonia the estimated cost of protecting nature is 129 million euros a year”.

Professor Ikerbasque then at the Basque Center for Climate Change BC3 Unai Pascual addressed the key aspects to encourage the debate on the relationship between biodiversity and the economy in Catalonia. Pascual stated that “we are still too stuck in the paradigm of progress” and added that “the transition to a green economy is more necessary than ever and should focus on a post-capitalist economic model that should be ‘approach from a structural point of view’. Unai Pascual defended “the need for collective action that goes beyond individual incentives” and called for “ending perverse subsidies that encourage, for example, intensive agriculture.” He also emphasized that “social equity is key to promoting collective action towards sustainability” and called for “nature to be valued beyond its short-term use”. Pascual concluded that “new values ​​that go beyond what is currently prevailing in the economy, such as productivity, must be encouraged.” 

The three production sectors in a round table
A round table moderated by the environmental journalist, writer and science disseminator Maria Josep Picó followed to discuss possible solutions to the loss of biodiversity and the spaces of opportunity that are generated according to the sector of activity. From the research sector, the director of the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBIO) Francesc Xavier Sans spoke, stating that “biodiversity is very important for all productive sectors and brings them stability”. On the part of the primary sector, the head of the environment of the Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives of Catalonia and president of the D.O. Siurana Antoni Galceran commented that “organic production systems and integrated production are increasing significantly in Catalonia” and added that “cultivation also plays an important role in preserving nature”. From the secondary sector, the director of QHSE of the manufacturer of active ingredients for cosmetics Provital Group David de los Santos defended “involving universities and start-ups in the conservation of biodiversity by providing more innovation” and explained that “From Provital Group we apply the circular economy and try that the raw materials we use are the residue of another process.” The tertiary sector was represented by the head of HR and CSR of the travel agency Tarannà Felisa Palacio who admitted that “tourism is responsible for almost 10% of greenhouse gas emissions according to a study by the University of Sydney ”and advocated“ becoming aware of the global reality and working from companies in a more responsible and ethical way ”.
Un moment de la taula rodona. Foto: Col·legi d'Economistes

A moment of the event. Image: Economists College

The event was closed by the director of the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia, Arnau Queralt, who said that “the defense of biodiversity will require more days” and that “its conservation requires good governance.”

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Communication manager at CREAF. I have a Biology degree (UAB) and I'm Master in Science Communication (UPF). Passionate about corporate communication with more than 7 years in the environmental R&D sector. Since 2011 I'm managing CREAF communication strategy.
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