Biodiversity: honour guidelines that reconcile world views

International Institute for Sustainability and Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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As an ecosystem-services researcher and lead author of a guide on the values of nature approved by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), I am saddened by the perceived conflict in the biodiversity community over the ‘ecosystem services’ and ‘nature’s contributions to people’ approaches to biodiversity valuation (see Nature 560, 423–425; 2018). Rather than being in competition, they are mutually reinforcing.

The IPBES guide (see makes it clear that both concepts are fully integrated into the IPBES approach. Since the guide was released, IPBES has embraced ecosystem services as one of many world views that capture how humans perceive their relationship with nature, alongside those pertaining to individuals and cultures whose conceptualization of nature leaves little room for the human–nature dualism.

Conservation is up against powerful and organized forces. Economic arguments such as avoided costs and jobs generation can influence pro-conservation decisions, as can factors such as health or indigenous and local knowledge. When former US president Barack Obama launched the US climate-change plan in 2015, he focused on the number of childhood asthma cases it would reduce, rather than on its potential economic benefits. The priority is to use all the arguments available to mobilize society’s attention.

Nature 561, 309 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06734-1
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