Put a value on nature!

July 30, 2012 § 1 Comment


“You can’t really have a proper model for development if at the same time you’re destroying or allowing the degradation of the very asset, the most important asset, which is your development asset, that is ecological infrastructure” – Pavan Sukhdev.

We have decided to start this post about the TED video ‘Put a value on Nature’ with a quote from the speaker himself, because it effectively sums up what it is all about.

Pavan Sukhdev: Put a value on nature!

In this TED video, Pavan Sukhdev talks about the hidden value received by human beings from nature; a value that does not get priced by the markets and what he calls ‘the economic invisibility of nature’.

In 2007, using the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change as a model, a group of environment ministers of the G8+5 launched a project called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) where the main aim was, as the name already indicates, to price Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

This talk mentions this project and highlights the importance of the ecosystems in the global economy. Here are just a few examples:

* At ecosystem level, the Amazon rainforest, besides being a massive storage of carbon and biodiversity, is also a rain factory. This rainfall factory feeds an agricultural economy in the order of 240 billion dollars-worth in Latin America. However, none of the countries pay a single penny for this vital input to their economies.

* At species level, it is been estimated that insect-based pollination, bees pollinating fruit and so on, is worth around 190 billion dollars. That is something like eight percent of the total agricultural output globally. In the county of Sichuan (China), for example, pollinators have been lost though the indiscriminate use of pesticides and the over-harvesting of its honey and honeybee have had to be replaced by workers.

China workers Owing to the lack of bees; Chinese farmer have started to pollinate their orchards by hand. Photograph: Li junsheng / Imaginechina (Guardian, 2010)

* At genetic level, 60 percent of medicines prospected, were found first as molecules in a rainforest or a reef.

As these examples indicate, ecosystems play a major role in global economy and we should reflect about this because we have much at stake. In this period of the financial crisis, we think this is a great time to integrate natural asset into the global economic system. Otherwise, the capitalist system as it is today, will not last long if all the natural capital which supports it, is being destroyed by the capitalist system itself.


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§ One Response to Put a value on nature!

  • Jim Robertson says:

    Well done, James — this is a brilliant way of portraying what the financial costs are to the business world, caused by mankind continuing to damage the planet, and may wake a few more enlightened businessmen……Thanks very much, and all power to your elbow !

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