Valuing Nature or Pricing Nature's Destruction?

Valuing Nature or Pricing Nature's Destruction?

Economic valuation of nature is not new. In fact, it has been a companion of capital accumulation for centuries. Yet, despite the long history of valuing select portions of nature economically, there seems to be a new quality to current approaches. Jutta Kill's paper "Economic Valuation and Payment for Environmental Services: Recognizing Nature's Value or Pricing Nature's Destruction?" explores where the recent initiatives aimed at 'ending the economic invisibility of nature' differ from previous approaches to economic valuation of nature. We also invited a number of scientists, academics and environmentalists to comment on the discussion paper and present their views.

Summary and concluding remarks

Commentary on this Discussion Paper

“Denominating biodiversity in dollars…justifies the claims of those with the greatest purchasing power worldwide to the greatest share of the earth's biomass and all that it contains.”
Kathleen McAfee

Commentary: Political discourse is required

Jutta Kill provides an excellent summary of why market-based or market-like valuation of ‘nature’ does not work as a tool for reducing climate change and biodiversity loss but rather is likely to worsen both trends.

Von Kathleen McAfee
In the end, selling monetary valuation as saving the planet goes along with the current advocacy of economic growth as the solution to human induced climate change.
Clive Spash

Commentary: Greenwash! Now in New Improved Formulae

This report is an excellent overview of the pitiful state of environmentalism and its neoliberalisation. The issues raised are important and should be taken seriously. I would like to suggest a few areas in which the argument could benefit from some further reflection.

Von Clive Spash
The major problem I see is not that economic valuation approaches are used, but that they tend to become the major logic of arguing, even within circles of conservation biologists, that it tends to become pervasive and all-embracing.
Kurt Jax

Commentary: Pursue a dual strategy

We should not completely abandon economic arguments; but instead of hectically following and reinforcing the trend, we should lessen the prominence of these arguments by strongly fostering alternative ones, especially those which relate to the very intuitions and reasons why people protect nature.

Von Kurt Jax
Nature does not “provide services” as a laundry does. It is not delivering services. Falling prey to this terminology, we may end up perceiving nature not in its ecological naturalness and its fertility, resilience, diversity and richness and not even as experienced nature but as large service industry.
Konrad Ott

Commentary: Dialectics between merits of and concerns

Creating the visibility to the economic eye requires abstractions that may in the end result in much more far-reaching changes to how we understand nature than initially imagined. There are three claims implied in this statement.

Von Konrad Ott
The new economy of nature tends to produce a similar right to decide what lives and what does not in the /natural world/ according to its economic value for capital, whether that world lies in the hands of corporations or of states.
Ivonne Yanez

Commentary: The role of the state

The new economy of nature tends to produce a similar right to decide what lives and what does not in the /natural world/ according to its economic value for capital, whether that world lies in the hands of corporations or of states.

Von Ivonne Yanez
... the key battle over the new forms of economic valuation of nature is not about how to improve measurement techniques so that externalities can at long last somehow be internalized."
Larry Lohmann

Commentary: Transforming class struggle

One of the great merits of Jutta Kill's timely discussion paper is that it shows why current debates over the economic valuation of nature matter.

Von Larry Lohmann
The market no longer conveys the message “we can grow as much as we want as long as we pay the price.”
Herman Daly