Roland Zieschank of the Environmental Policy Research Centre at Freie Universität Berlin warned against a potential commercialisation of nature.
Photo: Katherine Marshall

15.12.2014

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NGOs and ministry representatives were among the participants in a meeting on the economic valuation of nature in Bonn, Germany, in late November that was sponsored by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and North Rhine-Westphalia’s Environment and Development Foundation.

The economic valuation of nature has now been debated for several years, having already been implicit in the Kyoto Protocol that set targets for greenhouse gas emissions and provided the framework for trading CO2 equivalents. The role of nature in models to measure prosperity and of market-based instruments in nature conservation was discussed at a conference organised by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Global Policy Forum and terre des hommes in Bonn, Germany, in November.

Introducing the topic of measuring prosperity and national accounting, Roland Zieschank of the Environmental Policy Research Centre at Freie Universität Berlin pointed out that unlike human and social resources, natural resources were considered as free of charge in the economy, with the costs of overexploitation and environmental pollution being externalised. Zieschank explained that a key issue in this context was whether natural capital accounting would counter this approach or reinforce it. He called for a clear distinction between the assessment of natural capital for society and natural capital accounting at national level and warned against establishing the price of natural goods and services, as opposed to their value, since this would represent the beginning of a potential commercialisation of nature.

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