Esteemed environmental economist and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Pavan Sukhdev has won this year’s prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his work on bringing the economic consequences of environmental degradation and loss to the attention of corporate and political decision-makers.
Sukhdev’s groundbreaking 2008 report The Economics of Environment and Biodiversity (TEEB) is hosted by UNEP and became the foundation for the Green Economy movement. In 2009, UNEP appointed Sukhdev to lead the Green Economy Initiative, which demonstrates that the greening of economies can drive economic growth, provide a source of employment and alleviate poverty.
“His work, particularly with UNEP’s TEEB and the Green Economy Initiative has led to extraordinary improvements in our understanding of the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Tyler Prize Chair.
The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement is one of the oldest international environmental awards, recognizing individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to the scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the global environment.
“This award is equally a recognition of UNEP and its vibrant and active TEEB community,” said Sukhdev. “You don’t have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the environment. Just ask a farmer who now has to rent beehives to pollinate his crops, because there are no longer enough bees in wild nature to do the job for free. But bees don’t send invoices, so the value of their services is not recognized.”
His work on ecosystem services and biodiversity has helped shape our understanding of their importance in maintaining a healthy global environment; 2020 is a particularly critical year for recognizing this, with the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, and the ramp up to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030).
Sukhdev will be awarded the 2020 Tyler Prize with Gretchen C. Daily, Bing Professor of Environmental Science at Stanford University and founder of the Natural Capital Project. They will each receive a gold medallion and share a $200,000 cash prize.
Sukhdev is currently the president of WWF International and Founder and CEO of GIST, an NGO that specializes in research into major economic externalities arising from natural and human capital.