Why Price Nature? The role of economics in the protection of nature

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Should we value eco-system services in terms of money? Does a price tag on nature help to protect it or to destroy it?

There is a fundamental disagreement between scientists in the area of nature protection on the monetization of nature. Stichting RUW and Green Office will host a debate as an opening of the Seriously Sustainable Week between two experts from our university: Dr. Dolf De Groot, Associate Professor in Integrated Ecosystem Assessment & Management with the Environmental Systems Analysis Group and Prof. Dr. Bram Büscher, Chair of the Sociology of Development and Change Group.
This debate will be facilitated by Dr. Ir. Martijn Duineveld, Assistant Professor at the Cultural Geography Chair Group.

Both panellists have written an opening-statement which will be posted on the RUW website prior to the event.

Practical information:

Opening statement Dolf de Groot:

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“Many people SAY they find nature (conservation) important but we are still losing huge amounts of natural habitat and thousands of species each year, so ethical arguments alone are clearly not sufficient to halt the loss of biodiversity.

Money spent on conservation (although it is very little) is still seen as a cost but should be seen as an investment that provides large net-benefits. Providing better information on the economic value of nature creates more awareness about these benefits and helps to generate more funding for conservation.

We need governments that are serious about sustainable economic development which, in turn, needs a better informed public that votes for parties that take nature conservation serious. Better information about the economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity conservation is thereby essential.”

Opening statement Bram Büscher:

s200_bram_b_scherThe monetization of ecosystem service has little to do with the protection of nature and all to do with finding new markets to appease and stabilise a capitalist growth-economy in crisis. It hides the deepening and complex environmental contradictions of this growth-economy behind a seemingly rational and simplified idea of nature and ecology that has little base in empirical reality. Rather than subjecting nature to the logics that got us into the global environmental crisis, it is time we start taking the environmental contradictions of our contemporary capitalist growth-economy seriously and work towards real solutions that emphasise environmental and social justice.

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