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Symposium 2013

The New Economy of Nature

The Challenge

In light of declining public funds for nature conservation and in search of new investment opportunities for the private sector, water, biodiversity, soils and forests (notably their capacity for storing CO2) are being turned into tradable goods. The prospect of going beyond compensation and actually turning nature conservation into a source of profit has captivated economists and nature conservationists alike.

Proponents of this “new economy of nature” point to the experiences of carbon trading and believe that schemes such as the new Green Stock Exchange in Rio de Janeiro, REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and other ‘payment for environmental services’ systems will help to protect the natural capital for a green economy. They also want to ensure that the national accounts used to measure and plan economic growth include the value of natural resources.

Critics fear that assigning a monetary value to ecosystem services opens the floodgates to the “financialization” of nature and a weakening of environmental legislation and democratic spaces. They argue that especially in countries with weak or missing environmental legislation, a market approach undermines the potential for passing binding regulation and leaves those with money the option to “buy their way out”.

Under what circumstances is it useful to assess the monetary value of nature and how can we ensure that this does not lead to further enclosure of the commons or a weakening of environmental legislation? Does “green accounting” offer a new mindset to provide indicators of wealth beyond GDP? How can policy makers benefit from this new approach?

What lessons can be learned from the new mechanisms (such as “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – TEEB”, REDD, Habitat Banking Schemes, wetland banking in the US and others)? What alternatives are there for governments, the private sector, international organizations and civil society to address climate change, loss of biodiversity and other environmental crises effectively? How can we ensure that offset schemes do not lead to further environmental destruction by those that have the money to buy their way out? And how can we ensure that they respect and safeguard the rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities?

This session is part of the issue cluster "Achieving Sustainable and Inclusive Growth" and organized in cooperation with Heinrich Böll Foundation.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Stop financialization of nature through derivatives and other financial market products

    Stop financialization of nature through derivatives and other financial market products

    Stop financialization of nature through derivatives and other financial market products

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Increase liquidity of public funds to protect nature by redirecting subsidies and changing the tax regime

    Increase liquidity of public funds to protect nature by redirecting subsidies and changing the tax regime

    Increase liquidity of public funds to protect nature by redirecting subsidies and changing the tax regime

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Explore the valuation of ecosystem services as a means to capture environmental damage and compensation needs

    Explore the valuation of ecosystem services as a means to capture environmental damage and compensation needs

    Explore the valuation of ecosystem services as a means to capture environmental damage and compensation needs

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2013

    Making the value of ecosystem services tangible – the role of governments and businesses

    Background: ecosystem services embedded in our social norms and values Our culture is embedded in the natural world around us; nature consists of ecosystems. Hence, ecosystems are the very foundation ...

    Background: ecosystem services embedded in our social norms and values Our culture is embedded in the natural world around us; nature consists of ecosystems. Hence, ecosystems are the very foundation on which our culture is built. In view of this, our social norms must start to acknowledge the value of ecosystem services in order to preserve and further develop our culture. A culture out of which our civilisation has grown. The role of governments is to protect nature and its ecosystems. Putting a value on ecosystem services enables policy and decision makers to make better informed decisions for sustainable inclusive

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society