Putting a value on natural capital

December 30, 2011 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

The monetary value of natural capital is nearly always overlooked. Here, Conservation International director, Pavan Sukhdev, talks about what this means for communities, for countries, and for business.

Should we place economic value on natural resources that have an inherent value? Will this make any difference to the way an exploding human population uses (and often abuses) the Earth’s finite resources?

This TED presentation certainly gives plenty of food for thought, and perhaps it is long overdue that we do attach more of an economic value on natural goods if only to make consumers realise the true cost. But more importantly, in an economically-driven and highly politicised world, perhaps we should also be more mindful of the inherent value of what we consume, whether this is food resources (animal and vegetable), timber, oil, natural gas, medicines, and so on.

Far too many people, particularly in developed nations, have no concept at all of the true cost of the food they eat, the fuel they use, and the goods they consume. The raw ingredients that go into producing processed foods (i.e. palm oil), and into producing electronic goods (precious metals and minerals), all have a far higher cost to the environment than the price of the goods on the supermarket shelf. Is the answer raising the economic value of these goods at the check-out? In reality, that’s probably not going to happen. But as Pavan explains, getting corporations to be transparent about the costs of producing consumer goods may go some way towards addressing this very complex issue.

Ecology -v- economy is a very complicated subject, with no easy solutions, but a better awareness of some of the issues is what is needed, and I think this presentation goes some way towards this.

Entry filed under: Biodiversity, Conservation, Economic value of nature, Ethics. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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