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The Global Forum Debate
What are the costs of valuing nature?
The concept of valuing natural capital has acted as something of a red rag to certain bullish commentators in recent times, with George Monbiot’s broadside in The Guardian spawning everything from wholehearted support to severe rebuttals. While, as a trigger-phrase, it may not yet be up there with other environmental issues such as ‘man-made global warming’, ‘wind turbines’ or ‘immediate abolishment of the planning regulations’, it is set to become something of a polarising force as it seeps into the wider consciousness.
Not surprisingly then, two of the plenary speeches given at the 2012 ESPA Annual Science Conference focused specifically on issues around valuation (Ian Bateman and Partha Dasgupta) albeit with very different takes on the subject. These issues of valuation are critical to ESPA science, as highlighted in the ESPA Knowledge Strategy.
Shortly before the ESPA conference, the ESPA Director, Paul van Gardingen, was in Washington DC to discuss Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) with a global partnership of governments, NGOs and academic institutions.
This growing international interest is also reflected in the UNEP Inclusive Wealth Report. Launched at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012, Chapter Nine focuses on valuing regulating ecosystem services, which have been particularly neglected in favour of simpler provisioning services, and natural resource stocks.
If you would like to have your say on these issues and help shape the debate for future ESPA research, please comment below.