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Valuing nature equitably: beyond monetary values




Britto dos Santos, Natália, author

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Nature is essential to human well-being, providing material and non-material benefits. Interest in ecosystem valuation has increased steadily, initially focused on providing monetary valuation of nature and its services, raising debates regarding the appropriateness of these measures in different circumstances. However, monetary valuation alone cannot capture the full range of nature's benefits, and relying only on monetary values can lead to underestimation as well as environmental and social injustice. As we face the Anthropocene, the planetary crisis calls for urgent changes in how we perceive and value nature. This paper explores the idea that nature's values are understood by people not only as instrumental values (people's satisfaction) or intrinsic values (nature per se), but also as relational values arising from nontangible relationships. Further, I discuss the need to incorporate a plurality of valuation languages and knowledge sources to better understand ecological, socio-cultural and monetary values, considering specific conditions under which particular approaches may or not be appropriate. Otherwise, we might disregard important values, especially those which are less tangible and/or difficult to measure. This conversation is of utmost importance since all values are relevant to understand nature's benefits for humans and should be considered in order to make wise, social, environmental and climate just decisions regarding urgent planetary challenges.


Presented at the Environmental justice in the Anthropocene symposium held on April 24-25, 2017 at the Lory Student Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado. This symposium aims to bring together academics (faculty and graduate students), independent researchers, community and movement activists, and regulatory and policy practitioners from across disciplines, research areas, perspectives, and different countries. Our overarching goal is to build on several decades of EJ research and practice to address the seemingly intractable environmental and ecological problems of this unfolding era. How can we explore EJ amongst humans and between nature and humans, within and across generations, in an age when humans dominate the landscape? How can we better understand collective human dominance without obscuring continuing power differentials and inequities within and between human societies? What institutional and governance innovations can we adopt to address existing challenges and to promote just transitions and futures?
Includes bibliographical references.

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environmental values
socio-ecological systems
ecosystem services
humans and nature


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