SHORT INFO — Should conservation organizations treat nature as natural capital? — An opinion piece by Jacob Salcone

What’s it about in short: opin­ion piece on the role of nature con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions in the dis­cus­sion about eco­nomic val­u­a­tion of nature (Nat­ural Capital)

When was it released: Sep­tem­ber 3, 2015

By whom: Jacob Sal­cone, IUCN

More info:—An-opinion-piece-by-Jacob-Salcone

Short extract:

This is where con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions need to step up to the plate. Ecosys­tem ser­vice val­u­a­tion and nat­ural cap­i­tal account­ing are still mostly locked in the ivory tower, aca­d­e­m­i­cally mature but not yet main­streamed into national plan­ning and pol­icy mak­ing. Con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions need to part­ner with national plan­ners and even pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ers and entre­pre­neurs to bring the nat­ural cap­i­tal ini­tia­tives into practice.

Of course lim­i­ta­tions of this approach should be acknowl­edged. Not every ecosys­tem or species has quan­tifi­able ben­e­fits, and if ecosys­tem ser­vices can­not be quan­ti­fied, then it is dif­fi­cult to inte­grate them into the national account­ing frame­work. Con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions should not rely on nat­ural cap­i­tal alone to save the envi­ron­ment. Fur­ther­more, argu­ments for eco­log­i­cal con­nec­tiv­ity, using the pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ci­ple when ecosys­tem ser­vices are unknown, and even bio-centric intrin­sic value argu­ments have had suc­cesses in des­ig­nat­ing pro­tected areas and chang­ing pol­icy, despite no clear link to human well-being. To address the full breadth of envi­ron­men­tal harms that threaten global sus­tain­abil­ity, a range of approaches will be nec­es­sary. Nat­ural cap­i­tal account­ing is just one approach, but it is one that has trans­for­ma­tive potential.

Con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions should rec­og­nize that coun­tries will con­tinue to work to improve the liveli­hoods of their res­i­dents and grow GDP. Con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions should be will­ing to treat nature as nat­ural cap­i­tal because it trans­forms this par­a­digm and insti­tu­tion­al­izes sus­tain­abil­ity. Nat­ural cap­i­tal account­ing alone can­not save every species, but it is a pow­er­ful tool that con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tions need to embrace.

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