The Big and Little Things of Life

“Little Things” is a beautiful video meditation on the value of nature created for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study.

Hosted by the UNEP, TEEB convened a range of partners to assess and communicate “the global economic benefit of biological diversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the failure to take protective measures versus the costs of effective conservation.”

No small challenge.

After consulting with over 500 experts from across the globe to discuss biodiversity loss and potential responses, TEEB produced reports directed at five categories of “distinct end-users”:

  • ecologists and economists
  • international and national policy makers
  • local governments
  • business
  • citizens

In October 2010, TEEB released its Synthesis report, “Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature,” at the Nagoya Summit on Biodiversity.

For citizens (granted, a rather broad category), TEEB launched a website, The Bank of Natural Capital. TEEB also sponsored a video competition which asked participants to communicate “Why Nature is so precious to me.” “Little Things” was the winner of this competition.

More recently, TEEB sponsored a contest in conjunction with Visualizing.org and Challengepost.com to challenge designers to visualize and communicate the value of nature and use of natural capital.

Today, TEEB announced that Jacob Houtman’s entry (click on the image above for an interactive version) was the most effective visualization:

The Value of Nature – Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity visualization was deemed the most effective at showing how we are using our natural resources and provided an informative and fun tool for people to explore the issue by country and by sector. The interactive map covers each country around the world, visually depicting the difference between the country’s capacity and footprint. Unsurprisingly, the States has a deficit given it’s footprint is much larger than its capacity!

What you have here are complementary ways of looking at nature’s services. Some appeal to the emotions and some to reason. Each is a part of an effort to align all of our interests so that, ultimately, everyone will take action to conserve ecosystems and life across the planet.

No small challenge.

The scale of this necessary endeavor brings to mind the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer, a version of which President John F. Kennedy kept on his desk in the Oval Office.

H/T to Maria Popova (@brainpicker) for the “Little Things” video. You can also follow TEEB on Twitter @TEEB4me

Photo credit: The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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