Natural world

A green economy is one that invests and restores our ecosystems and biodiversity in order to secure their services forever. Here issue experts share practical suggestions on valuing and managing our natural capital.

June, 2012
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Costa Rica: growing money on trees?

Ina Porras - IIED

Controversy stalks the green economy concept, even as it topped the agenda of world leaders at the Rio+20 summit. Its detractors say it spells a commodification of nature that will transfer money, power and land to elites and corporations while supporters counter that our collective failure to value nature is why forests and other ecosystems are in such trouble.... Continue reading

June, 2012
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Can we protect the rights of Nature in a Green Economy?

Soledad Ghione and Eduardo Gudynas

Reports of environmental problems or biodiversity loss are not new. Since the 60s, there has been an increasing amount of information about the environmental impacts of conventional development strategies based on economic growth. The present environmental crisis indicates that those alerts have been ignored.

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March, 2012
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Drip feeding water into the Green Economy

Jamie Skinner - IIED

We are used to reading fluid and fluctuating news on water. We may have too much or too little rain, crops desiccate or they rot, or we hear about severe drought, or floods leading to widespread famine, displacement or economic damage. Everybody wants water when it is scarce (but they usually don’t pay more in times of scarcity) and the costs of protecting citizens against its adverse effects are externalised to the public purse.  With year to year, or even week to week, fluctuations in the status of such a precious natural resource, what would be the perfect place for water within a Green Economy?  How could we know when we have reached an optimal and sustainable management of our available water? With so many environmental and social externalities associated with every drop of water, how much should water cost the user?

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December, 2011
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Natural capital: pricing the priceless

Andrew Raingold

With all eyes fixed on the latest global share prices and bond yields, there was relatively little interest in the most recent figures published in the annual red list.

This is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It shows that 25% of all mammals and one in three of the world's amphibians are at risk of extinction.

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September, 2011
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Using planetary science to shape economics

Oliver Greenfield - Green Economy Coalition

Economic theory (and common sense) tells us that when something is valuable, and it is free, its use tends to infinity - this explains why trees, biodiversity, freshwater and atmospheric space for carbon are all being used ‘like there is no tomorrow’. It also assumes that when something is exhausted (or too expensive), a substitute is almost certain to be found.

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July, 2011
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Three dimensional capitalism

Pavan Sukhdev - GIST Advisory

As an investment banker with another life built over fifteen years around my passion for the economics of nature and, more recently, by leading TEEB, a study on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity, I am often asked how I reconcile my capitalist background with my commitments to nature and the environment.

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February, 2011
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Wild land and the economics of land use

Victor Anderson - WWF

Sustainable land use economics are vital to protect the ecosystem services upon which we all depend.

There have been many arguments about "peak oil" and the depletion of metals, but there is one resource that without doubt is limited in supply: land. Unlike most ordinary products, an increase in the price of land doesn't bring about an incentive to produce any more of it - because there can't be any more. The Dutch reclaimed land from the sea, but rising sea levels now mean we have less land.

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