'TEEB Initiative is a key contributor in building community awareness and formulation of pragmatic policies', says Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, MoEFCC

The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) and GIZ’s Indo-German Biodiversity Programme, jointly organised a “Wetlands Ecosystems Learning Group workshop” on March 11, 2015, to discuss the relevance of ecosystems valuation economics in the decision making and planning processes. The workshop saw participation from renowned organisations like Wetlands International, Wildlife Trust of India and eminent environmentalist, scientists and economists like Dr. Kirit Parikh (Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group), Dr. Yugraj Yadava (Head of the Bay of Bengal Programme), Dr. Ajit Kumar Pattnaik (Chilika Development Authority).

Mr. Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, MoEFCC, in his opening address, highlighted the significance of the TEEB initiative in raising awareness of the economic value of assets and promoting a participatory approach. He hoped that pragmatic policies, with far reaching impacts, would emerge from these studies.

Mr. Hem Pande, Additional Secretary, MoEFCC, emphasised the fact that focussed communication methodologies would enable increased community awareness and participation, ultimately leading to better and enhanced measures on protection of wetlands.

Mr. Edgar Endrukaitis, Director of the Indo-German Biodiversity Programme, presented an overview of objectives and interventions under the programme, and emphasised that the proactive support received from the Ministry has been crucial in the successful partnership and start of the TEEB India initiative, as the first of its kind on ecosystem valuation in India. This workshop was the concluding part of a series of workshops by MoEFCC and GIZ to create a common platform for peer learning that would lead to concrete solutions to enable change at the local and policy level.

The well-researched studies, conducted from the economic, ecological and social perspectives, are expected to be tactical and simple pathways to catalyse interest, spark community dialogue and participation. Most importantly, they are expected to start a public debate on the economic benefits of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The workshop, which was moderated by Dr. J.R. Bhatt, Advisor, MoEFCC, saw productive debate and enthusiastic participation from the attendees. Dr. Parikh, and other experts, will be meeting further to develop a concrete way forward towards relevant policy recommendations.

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