Valuing Nature or Pricing Nature's Destruction?

Valuing Nature or Pricing Nature's Destruction?

Foto: FERN. Creative Commons License LogoDieses Bild steht unter einer Creative Commons Lizenz.

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 have invited a number of scientists, academics and environmentalists to provide different views and starting points for the discussion. Their reviews of the paper will successively be uploaded here to fuel the debate.

Now, we are inviting you to comment and discuss online! (Please note: The discussion has ended by now).

We hope that you will actively participate and contribute to a lively debate on this highly controversial issue. You can post your comment from this day forward until December 11, 2015. After that the author, Jutta Kill, will respond to the comments uploaded and posted. All inputs will feed into our ongoing discussions and work plans for 2016 and beyond.

We are inviting you to comment and discuss online!

Jutta Kill

Biologist and journalist
Cover: Economic Valuation and Payment for Environmental Services:

This paper will explore where the recent initiatives aimed at "ending the economic invisibility of nature" differ from previous approaches to economic valuation of nature.

Summary and concluding remarks

von

I would like to thank all contributors who took the time to comment on this discussion paper. They have contributed to a public debate about the assumptions and interests behind the new economy with "nature" and its valuation techniques.

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
von

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.

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
von

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.

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
von

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.

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
von

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.

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
von

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.

... 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
von

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.

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

I agree with the main thrust of Jutta Kill’s essay, and am always pleased to be quoted. A comment by Herman Daly.