The economic valuation of nature: A question of justice?

5 thoughts on “The economic valuation of nature: A question of justice?”

  1. Dear RAD members,

    thanks for dedicating a discussion space to my conversation with Brett Matulis, who I have not the pleasure to meet but that I respect strongly. My reaction to his paper was not a result of fundamentally “disagreeing” with his views, but to demand some precision in the way he/many of us articulated discourses for or against PES, and the economic valuation of ecosystem services more broadly. In spite of such desire, I should acknowledge that my response was also imprecise, since the issues you raise about a) the need to be more explicit about the linkage between markets and capitalism -in a historical perspective- and b) how PES features in a broader process of uneven development between rich and poor, across and within countries, are fair points and deserved further reflection.

    My piece, in any case, had no intention to go beyond the issues raised by Matulis himself. For my own reflection on issues related to PES and the production or prioritisation of certain knowledge over others, see Kosoy and Corbera (2010), Corbera and Brown (2009), Corbera and Martin (2015), in which I do highlight the perverse role of scientific knowledge in legitimising carbon forestry and side-lining particular valuations of such forests.

    Thanks once again, and hope to be crossing paths soon with some of you!


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  2. Dear RADGE,

    Thanks for this! Great to see such thoughtful engagement. You identify some important points, particularly with regard to uneven development and knowledges of nature. As for intrinsic values, you’re right, they do underpin some of the resistance to the neoliberalisation of nature. But I’m still of the mind that it’s the wrong battle to fight. I recently made the case for a form of “social instrumentalism” in conservation debates that moves beyond intrinsic values and (capitalist) economic instrumentalism:

    I hope to catch up with you all soon, meet new members, and hopefully you too at some point Esteve.


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  3. Dear RAD.GE,

    Looks like it was interesting meeting and discussion. Agree with the observation that state approaches are increasingly framed by the use of monetary valuation. Look no further than the Scots. Govt agenda on Natural Capital. You might also be aware or perhaps let those interested know, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Scottish Forum on Natural Capital are organising the 3rd World Forum on Natural Capital to be held in Edinburgh during the autumn. It’s a high profile event and attracts many conservation and business advocates of Nat Cap from around the world. The reason I mention this, is that there may be scope to get involved in the event and create a platform which discusses some of the challenges and critiques your group has highlighted.

    I’ve been to many panel discussions on this over the last few years, and one finds that each party, be it the geographers, economists or ‘pragmatic ecologist’ who get wheeled out simply talk to each other in their own language. There is no meaningful conversation. So, there may be opportunity to help shape this session.

    One may choose simply not to get involved in this endeavour; simply engaging may promote another ‘discursive naturalisation’. However, I suspected many of the people attending the last event, were generally good people, seeking guidance rather than opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

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