Following the launch of the Sustainable Use of Wild Species Assessment Report last Friday, the IPBES has released today a second major scientific report, the Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature (known as the “Values Assessment”). The report was approved Saturday, 9 July by representatives of its 139 member States at the end of the one-week long 9th Plenary taking place in Bonn, Germany.
The IPBES Values Assessment responds to the need to support decision-makers in understanding and accounting for the wide range of nature’s values in policy decisions in order to address the current biodiversity crisis and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The way nature is valued in political and economic decisions is both a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis and a vital opportunity to address it, according to a four-year methodological assessment by 82 top scientists and experts from every region of the world. Among these authors are a number of experts from Biodiversa-funded projects.
The report finds that there is a dominant global focus on short-term profits and economic growth, often excluding the consideration of multiple values of nature in policy decisions. It also stresses that economic and political decisions have prioritised certain values of nature such as those associated with food produced intensively, but are commonly overlooking the many non-market values associated with nature’s contributions to people, such as climate regulation and cultural identity.
To help policymakers better understand the very different ways in which people conceive and value nature, the Report provides a novel and comprehensive typology of nature’s values. The typology highlights how different worldviews and knowledge systems influence the ways people interact with and value nature. The typologies can be gathered under four general perspectives: Living (1) from, (2) with, (3) in and (4) as nature. Living from nature emphasizes nature’s capacity to provide resources for sustaining livelihoods, needs and wants of people, such as food and material goods. Living with nature has a focus on life ‘other than human’ such as the intrinsic right of fish in a river to thrive independently of human needs. Living in nature refers to the importance of nature as the setting for people’s sense of place and identity. Living as nature sees the natural world as a physical, mental and spiritual part of oneself.
The authors identify four values-centred ‘leverage points’ that can help create the conditions for the transformative change necessary for more sustainable and just futures:
- Recognizing the diverse values of nature
- Embedding valuation into decision-making
- Reforming policies and regulations to internalize nature’s values
- Shifting underlying societal norms and goals to align with global sustainability and justice objectives