United Kingdom should learn from global body for biodiversity

Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.

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Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.

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University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

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It is a shame that debates on biodiversity policy are much narrower in some countries than those fuelled by the wide range of voices in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES; see Nature 560, 423–425; 2018). The United Kingdom, for instance, retains the model of natural science in alliance with economists who specialize in the monetary valuation of ‘pieces of natural capital’. The nation must learn from IPBES if it is to address crucial aspects of biodiversity loss.

Economics can contribute much more than techniques and studies of valuation. Changes in land use, the way in which food and energy are produced, and consumer demand for different types of product, for example, can all cause biodiversity loss.

Putting a price on ‘natural capital’ speaks more to policymakers than to most people’s reasons for valuing nature. We need to find a better way to mobilize support for biodiversity conservation — for example, by defining concepts such as services and diversity in terms that are more meaningful to the public.

Many participants in the research network that we coordinate, Debating Nature’s Value (see, would like to see UK researchers and policymakers adopt the IPBES approach.

Nature 562, 39 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06892-2
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Competing Financial Interests

The authors currently have a funding application being considered by the AHRC for further work in this area. Also, Victor Anderson and Rupert Read are both unpaid members of Green House, an environmental policy think-tank.