Biodiversity conservation: Accounting for the diversity of values in nature and society

by Franz W. Gatzweiler February 2009, Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung  (Center for Development Research University of Bonn)

Some interesting findings in the policy brief :

  1. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation have led to economic losses which dwarf the losses of the current financial crisis. Biodiversity loss involves high risks and irreversibilities for current and future generations. Adequate attention must therefore be given to questions of whose values count and how to take these values into account.
  2. The “economic compass” is not defective but works in the way it has been designed, based on a simple mechanistic view of man interacting with nature, excluding the complexities of both. Biodiversity loss cannot be solved in the framework of an economic system which defined the very rules and incentives which caused it.
  3. Market failure is just one reason for biodiversity loss along with institutional and policy failure. The economic values of ecosystems and biodiversity therefore need to be socially contextualized by integrating them in societal decision-making systems which are part of the policy process. It is not only since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report that we are aware of the negative consequences of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. The Millennium Assessment, however, has brought the topic back to the top of the agenda of public concern. Those 150 countries that have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are especially concerned. They signed up to conserve, sustainably use and share the benefits of using the earth’s biodiversity.
  4. Re-defining the relationship between man and nature, by other than only economic value articulating institutions, will allow for the accounting of other than just monetary values and designing an economy which takes man’s and nature’s household into account beyond mere chrematistics.
  5. Deliberative decision tools, like citizen juries and roundtables, are complementary to economic and multi-criteria decision support tools and enable society to engage in stewardship strategies for biodiversity loss, guided by norms and principles.

Download the document