Our relationship with nature is determined by the value we assign to the world around us. Nowadays, nature politics often relies on a one-sided perspective on nature. Taking multiple perspectives into account can make conservation not only more effective, but also fairer.
IPBES, that Intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem servicesExamine the insights that underlie the politics of nature in a monumental report. These are often based on an accurate economic assessment of the natural value. Biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the goods and services that an ecosystem provides to humans, are given monetary value and are therefore weighted in policy choices. However, these choices ignore many other elements and how decisions about dealing with nature affect people’s lives.
Professor Sander Jacobs, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Nature and Forestry Research (INBO) contributed to the report. “The way we view nature has the potential to improve our relationship with it. Evaluation is fundamentally about determining importance and is the basis of collective decisions, which in turn have different advantages and disadvantages for different groups in society. Management based on a one-sided view risks creating disadvantages for people who do not Their values are taken into account.
Today, it is the economy that is mainly weighing on us. In fact, it is about choosing unity in the appreciation of nature. It is possible to monetize biodiversity, ecosystem services, recreation or heritage value. This is useful for influencing policy. But there is a downside. Other methods of assessing nature, such as the relationship with the landscape, cannot be expressed in economic terms and are not included in decisions.
But it is not purely economic evaluation that is causing the problems. Even with a very one-sided environmental view, sometimes things go wrong. “For example, if nature is preserved in a very strict way and areas are protected from humans, this could have disadvantages for communities that traditionally use that landscape,” Jacobs says.
Today, economic and environmental assessments dominate the visions that form the basis of environmental policy. Jacobs says this falls short of various other perspectives. The relational appreciation that connects us to the landscape, for example, is often recognized. It’s great for communities that really live in nature. These values are less easy to quantify and are seen as less significant. However, there are already indicators that can take into account elements such as the relationship with nature or the cultural and historical value of the landscape.
Jacobs hopes the report will lead to a new, multiple standard for evaluation. Today, one perspective usually dominates when making decisions. We would like to see policy makers and administrations evaluating, for example, social and economic impact analyzes taking multiple dimensions into account. This will not only make the policy more effective, but also support it more broadly, because a pluralistic perspective also means that the voice of other groups in the population is heard.
Jacobs says presenting multiple perspectives when designing environmental policy should not only lead to better and more broadly supportive management, but also to more equity. This is a key point in managing nature. People whose values are not recognized are not at the table either. A broader view of the value of nature also increases the justice of nature’s politics.
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