David Pearce Lecture

Thursday 28 June 2012, 11:15 - 12:15

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Ian J. Bateman, CSERGE, University of East Anglia, UK

Chaired by Anne-Sophie Crépin, The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Room VENCOVSKEHO AULA, video transmitted to RB 101

Recent years have seen increased interest in the 'ecosystem service' conceptualisation of the support which the natural environment provides for human wellbeing. We argue that this approach is entirely compatible with environmental economics and indeed is best seen as a call to ensure that economic analyses are grounded upon a firm base of natural science.

The paper examines the application of economic analysis to ecosystem service assessments. Taking as an example the recent UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK-NEA), we apply methods for valuing changes in the services provided by the natural environment. Particular attention is given to the incorporation of spatial variation in the environment within such valuations. Findings highlight the substantial improvements in welfare that can arise from shifting the emphasis of decision making away from a focus upon market priced goods towards a broader conception of economic values. We also consider weaknesses in such techniques, particularly with respect to the assessment of non-use values and draw upon ongoing work in developing countries to suggest a potential solution to such problems.

We conclude by highlighting the need to go beyond valuations of ecosystem service flows to consider the sustainability of natural asset stocks.
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