The price to pay for conservation?

On the economic valuation of nature
By Jutta Kill
‘Nature is destroyed because it’s invisible to politicians and business’, advocates of economic valuation say. The implicit assumption: Create a ‘nature that capital can see’ and the loss of biodiversity will be stopped. But it isn’t that simple!
Possibly far-reaching changes in perception and subtle changes to legal principles will go hand-in-hand with creating a ‘nature that capital can see’. Abundant absurdities are coming to the fore in the attempt to turn the web of life into neatly packaged, measurable and comparable ‘ecosystem service’ units. They deserve exploring.
This brochure takes up arguments put forth in the debate about a new economy with nature. It shows that the political question is not whether economic valuation automatically involves putting a ‘price tag on nature’, but if it encourages pricing in practice. Sadly, the early examples of what ‘trading in environmental services’ looks like in reality already provide sufficient reason for saying ‘No’ to more of the same.
Climate action days in Germany
In view of this year’s UN Climate Conference in Paris many activists will be protesting from mid-August in Germany, deploring the climate-damaging mining of lignite. They stress that the coal- and lignite lobby keeps on trying to slow down the so much needed energy transition. In the run-up to the actions days various workshops are being organised on topics like climate, energy and alternatives.

Economic Valuation of Nature. The Price to Pay for Conservation? A critical exploration

Author: Jutta Kill

Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Brussels Office

August 2014


This brochure is also available in German.