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.
Are we sure that ecosystem services alleviate poverty?
It may seem like a stupid question, but why should we be interested in the role of ecosystem services in poverty alleviation? I am playing devil’s advocate here. If you have, like me, spent time with farmers in Tanzania, then the central role of ecosystem health in their agricultural work, house-building, cooking, heating, investment plans and risk management is obvious. Of course ecosystems and ecosystem services must be central to any plan to alleviate poverty or promote prosperity.
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Why Value Nature? It’s Better to be Roughly Right than Really Wrong
“NATURAL CAPITAL!” the famous author snarled at me, “It’s NATURE! It’s PEOPLE! not capital. You can’t call them capital; they’re... they’re...spiritual,” he spat at me. “You can’t put a price tag on them. It’s immoral.”... Continue reading
Are our Oceans worth $24 Trillion?
Our oceans are worth at least $24 trillion, according to a new WWF report Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action—2015. And goods and services from coastal and marine environments amount to about $2.5 trillion each year—that would put the ocean as the seventh largest economy in the world if put into terms of Gross Domestic Product.... Continue reading
UK Election: Environmental priorities for 2015
On May 7th 2015, the United Kingdom goes to the polls to elect a brand new government. The competing political parties' environmental policies haven't seen the prominence the GEC feels they deserve, but the Greener Britain Hustings offered a chance to see four of the most environmentally engaged parties discuss their green priorities for the next UK Parliament.
The politicians featured were:... Continue reading
Georgia leading the way on Natural Capital Valuation
Georgia, nestled among the soaring Caucasus Mountains belongs to one of 34 globally significant "biodiversity hotspots" identified by Conservation International. Georgia's ecosystem services serve as a powerful engine of economic growth in sectors such as agriculture, energy, tourism, mining, and forestry. For example, Georgia's agriculture sector employs 53 per cent of the workforce and is the main vehicle for rural development.... Continue reading
Who values nature: the power to create new biodiversity markets?
For many, nature has intrinsic value which means it’s unquantifiable and priceless. The process of economic valuation attempts to go beyond this to quantify and place economic values on ‘ecosystem services’ - for example, the global value of pollination by bees has been estimated to be $190 billion a year.... Continue reading
What do Switzerland and China Have in Common?
Did you know the Chinese province of Guizhou in southwest China bears some striking resemblance to Switzerland? I confess I didn't, until I was invited to Guizhou last month to speak at Eco-Forum Global.... Continue reading
Power and economies of scale are colour-blind
In the run-up to the Rio+20 conference, the emerging ‘green economy’ agenda came under a certain amount of criticism for its downplaying of poverty alleviation and social justice aspects of sustainable development. A year before the conference, Jim Thomas of the ETC Group wrote:... Continue reading
The Social Dimension of Natural Capital
The natural capital idea is still relatively unheard of but is probably on more people’s radars after the first World Forum on Natural Capital was held in Edinburgh last week. Natural capital is broadly understood to mean placing an economic value on nature to recognise its full value.... Continue reading
The Green Economist's Tale
When I finished my PhD in economics more than a decade ago I felt uncomfortable about calling myself an economist. After all, weren’t they the sort of people who were responsible for the problems I had spent my life trying to solve? How could I label myself as belonging to a profession that could cost nature and label it as ‘ecosystem services’? To find a way around this problem I decided to call myself a ‘green economist’, and that has been my unofficial job title for the past ten years.... Continue reading