Beijing wants to measure the values of ecosystems

October 24, 2023

Beijing is taking steps toward using ecological product value to fuel green and sustainable high-quality development, the city's vice-mayor said during an international forum held on Monday.

Tan Xuxiang made the remarks at the First International Conference on Realizing the Value of Ecosystem Goods and Services held in Yanqing district in Beijing, which attracted more than 50 guests from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden, as well as about 300 guests from domestic government departments, scientific institutions and companies.

One of the key aspects discussed during the conference was the concept of gross ecosystem product, or GEP, which refers to the total value contributed by the ecosystem to human welfare, sustainable economic and social development.

In other words, it's the total monetary value of ecological products generated within a region over a given period, which represents the transformation of the "priceless" ecosystem services into a measurable economic value, according to the city's ecology and environment bureau.

Beijing has been proactive in its efforts to integrate the protection and governance of its landscapes, forests, farmland, lakes and grasslands in past decades. Substantial efforts have been made to enhance biodiversity, stability and sustainability within the city's ecosystems, said Chen Tian, the bureau chief.

Beijing has pioneered the implementation of national standards for GEP accounting and issued its local standards last year.

The Chinese capital will complete the accounting of GEP for municipal, district and subdistrict-level areas, as well as significant ecological spaces by the end of 2025, adding that its annual results will be applied to ecological protection compensation initiatives.

Stephen Polasky, a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the US who attended the symposium, presented the latest developments in the sector and praised Beijing's efforts in GEP accounting and management.

"It's important to understand how Beijing is already doing in terms of calculating out the values of nature bringing to people. ... It's difficult to integrate the ecological sciences along with the economics to show how investing in nature provides value to people, but much good work is already being done in that regard," he said.