Not values of nature but dominant global focus on short term profits: Report
New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) There is a dominant global focus on short term profits and economic growth, often excluding the consideration of multiple values of nature in policy decisions and the way nature is valued in political and economic decisions is both a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis and a vital opportunity to address it.
This is the outcome of a four-year methodological assessment - 'Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature' - by 82 top scientists and experts from every region of the world and approved by representatives of the 139 member states of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Economic and political decisions have predominantly prioritised certain values of nature, particularly market-based instrumental values of nature, such as those associated with food produced intensively. Although often privileged in policymaking, these market values do not adequately reflect how changes in nature affect people's quality of life. Furthermore, policymaking overlooks the many non-market values associated with nature's contributions to people, such as climate regulation and cultural identity.
"With more than 50 valuation methods and approaches, there is no shortage of ways and tools to make visible the values of nature. Only 2 per cent of the more than 1,000 studies reviewed consult stakeholders on valuation findings and only 1 per cent of the studies involved stakeholders in every step of the process of valuing nature. What is in short supply is the use of valuation methods to tackle power asymmetries among stakeholders, and to transparently embed the diverse values of nature into policymaking, said the authors of the report that was approved on Saturday and shared with media for popular consumption on Monday.
Unai Pascual (Spain/Switzerland) co-chaired the Assessment with Patricia Balvanera (Mexico), Mike Christie (UK) and Brigitte Baptiste (Colombia).
Deeply cross-disciplinary and, based on a large review conducted by experts in social science, economics and the humanities, the Values Assessment draws on more than 13,000 references - including scientific papers and information sources from indigenous and local knowledge. It also builds directly on the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment, which identified the role of economic growth as a key driver of nature loss, with 1 million species of plants and animals now at risk of extinction.
In order to make this typology useful for policy makers for decision-making, the authors present four general perspectives with a novel and comprehensive typology of nature's values: living 'from', 'with', 'in' and 'as' nature.
"Living from nature emphasises nature's capacity to provide resources for sustaining livelihoods, needs and wants of people, such as food and material goods; living with nature has a focus on life aother than human' such as the intrinsic right of fish in a river to thrive independently of human needs; living in nature refers to the importance of nature as the setting for people's sense of place and identity, and living as nature sees the natural world as a physical, mental and spiritual part of oneself," the authors said.
The authors also identified four values-centred aleverage points' that can help create the conditions for the transformative change necessary for more sustainable and just futures. These include recognizing the diverse values of nature; embedding valuation into decision-making; reforming policies and regulations to internalise nature's values, and shifting underlying societal norms and goals to align with global sustainability and justice objectives.