Earthwatch debate: Does nature come with a price tag?
Should we put a monetary value on nature to save it? That is the core question at the Earthwatch Spring debate.
Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire is valued for its beauty and role in biodiversity but should that come at a financial cost? (Credit: Steven O’Gorman)
Watch the highlights of the debate below, or click here to watch in full.
‘Natural Capital’ is a term used to describe our planet’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. These are the things that make human life possible yet many are at risk from our activities.
Some people believe that in this consumer-driven modern society, we will only be able to successfully protect nature if we put a price tag on the services it provides. Others say that it is impossible to value nature in monetary terms.
George Monbiot described Natural Capital as ‘gobbledygook’ and labelled it a ‘neoliberal road to ruin’.
Earthwatch is bringing together an exciting panel of speakers to debate the issue at our event at the Royal Geographical Society on Thursday, May 5, 2016. The event will begin at 7pm.
Tom presents the investigations on Countryfile – Britain’s most popular factual TV programme. He is also the principal voice of ‘Costing the Earth’ on Radio 4, the nation’s only dedicated environment series. He is also a regular Panorama reporter covering food, farming energy and wildlife. He was the presenter of the long running BBC 1 Daytime series Animal 24:7.
Tony is a writer, sustainability adviser and leading British environmentalist. In February 2015 he published What Nature Does for Britain and in 2013 wrote What Has Nature Ever Done for Us.
Prof. Mark Huxham
Mark is Director of Academic Strategy at Edinburgh Napier University, the founding director of the charity ACES (The Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services) and leader of an Earthwatch research and conservation project in Kenya to restore mangroves.
Prof. Georgina Mace
Georgina Mace is Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems and Director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER). She led the development of scientific work behind the criteria used in IUCN’s Red List of threatened species (2000) and has been integral to several other key part of biodiversity policy. Currently she is a member of the UK Government’s Natural Capital Committee.
Miles is chief executive of charity People Need Nature, which promotes the value and need for nature in people’s lives. He has worked in nature conservation for 30 years, variously leading the conservation work at Plantlife, The Grasslands Trust and Buglife, working as a consultant, for English Nature/Natural England and the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. He has variously campaigned to save nature, helped developed policies which support nature, worked on rare species conservation projects, managed nature reserves and helped landowners manage their land for nature.
Prof. Sian Sullivan
Sian Sullivan is Professor of Environment and Culture at Bath Spa University. She is an anthropologist and political ecologist interested in cultural relationships with nature. Her research explores cultural landscapes, the financialisation of nature, and the politics of biodiversity conservation, with a long-standing geographical focus on north-west Namibia, southern Africa. Sian is currently leading a cross-disciplinary research project into cultural landscapes, conservation and sustainabilities in west Namibia, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (www.futurepasts.net). She has published widely for academic and policy/practitioner audiences on issues in conservation and the cultural politics of nature (see http://siansullivan.net).
Dr Mike Hannis
Mike Hannis is a Research Fellow in Environmental Ethics at Bath Spa University. His work centres on the relationship between human flourishing and ecological sustainability, ranging from theoretical papers to explorations of land use planning, nuclear waste disposal, permaculture and biodiversity offsetting. Mike’s 2015 book Freedom and Environment argues that since different aspects of the natural world contribute in different ways to flourishing human lives, natural capital approaches which rely on aggregation and monetisation fail to capture how people really value ‘nature’.