What value on nature? Countries now have first guidelines


Countries have approved the first comprehensive guidelines for judging the value of nature after four years of intense debate, officials said on Monday.

The report has been endorsed by 139 countries, including the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, which are members of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. , or IPBES, supported by the United Nations.

Its authors hope that the guide they have developed with the help of experts from a wide range of disciplines will make it easier for governments to consider only the economic benefits of a project when deciding whether and of how to do it.

This includes determining how local communities will gain or lose from a project such as a hydroelectric dam – a situation that has regularly led to friction between businesses, citizens and authorities in the past.

Rather than prescribing a fixed way for governments to estimate these non-economic benefits, the report provides them with tools to work through the often complex valuation process, said co-author Patricia Balvanera of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“We are providing a roadmap for decision makers on how to handle this very complex situation they face every day,” she said.

Author Unai Pascual of the Basque Center for Climate Change in Bilbao, Spain, said the report’s approval represents a “significant step” in how governments view nature, challenging some of the assumptions under underlying factors that have contributed to the destruction of the environment.

The report was written with the help of dozens of social and natural science experts with the aim of bridging the often huge differences between disciplines and finding a common approach that they could all support, he said. .

“We don’t know what’s next,” Pascual said, but suggested the guidelines will likely be reflected in negotiations at the UN biodiversity conference in December in Montreal.

Representatives of indigenous groups welcomed the new guidelines and an IPBES report released last week that highlighted the need for sustainable use of nature.

“There is growing evidence that when the rights of indigenous peoples are guaranteed, we outperform all other forest managers in reducing deforestation and preventing wildfires,” said José Gregório Díaz MIrabal of COICA, a coordinating body of indigenous organizations in the country of the Amazon basin.

“If the goal is to succeed in saving the Amazon, any plan must be done in collaboration with indigenous peoples,” he said.

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