Below is an excerpt from a recently published manuscript regarding the conservation of biodiversity.
Citation: Rands, Michael RW, et al. "Biodiversity conservation: challenges beyond 2010." Science 329.5997 (2010): 1298-1303.
"...To address the continued global loss of biodiversity, we propose the pursuit of three interconnecting priorities: (i) to manage biodiversity as a public good, (ii) to integrate biodiversity into public and private decision-making, and (iii) to create enabling conditions for policy implementation.
Managing biodiversity as a public good. An appreciation of biodiversity as a public good (65) and of its economic value (66) is, we believe, central to future effective conservation. Biodiversity loss is rarely the intended consequence of human actions; more often it is an unintended side effect of decisions taken for other reasons—an economic “externality” (67). Biodiversity is a special kind of externality, as the impacts of a particular action are often distant in space and time (e.g., local rainforest loss may affect the global carbon cycle, with consequences for future generations). This makes effective regulation difficult, as no single body has jurisdiction over the world’s biodiversity. It also makes transaction-based solutions difficult, because those who damage biodiversity are often widely separated, in space or time, from those who experience the consequences. Actors have few incentives or opportunities to change their behavior, whether they are smallholder households planning their annual agricultural cycles or large multinational companies determining their corporate priorities. Thus, understanding and managing biodiversity as a global public good, which must be provided through conscious collective choices (68), is fundamental to achieving its conservation (5).
The recognition of biodiversity as a public good is not a new concept, and in recent years economists have made substantial progress in developing valuation techniques that quantify the local and global benefits of biodiversity (69). Measuring the economic values of biodiversity (5) and estimating spatially explicit economic values of services across landscapes to inform management decisions (70) are vital. However, making these values explicit is insufficient to bring about a change in behavior, unless supporting public policies are in place that either reward positive individual actions or penalize harm. Economists need to work more closely with conservationists and policy makers to develop intervention strategies that shift individual actors toward more biodiversity-friendly behavior, using regulatory devices as well as incentives, thereby securing the provision of biodiversity conservation as a global public good.
Integrating biodiversity into public and private decision-making. The value of biodiversity must be made an integral element of social, economic, and political decision-making, as is starting to happen with carbon and climate change. Government, businesses, and civil society all have crucial roles in this transition.
For government, maintenance of stocks of natural capital must become an explicit, accountable, and implemented element of policy. Concern for biodiversity cannot be restricted to a nation’s environment ministry but must extend across all sectors of government, such as treasury, industry, and defense. Policy change will require clear and cost-effective metrics of natural capital consumption and depletion (71) and the development of systems of public accounts that include both sustainability (72) and the specific issue of biodiversity loss (5). Government staff and politicians may need in-service training in biodiversity science and ecological economics, with effective research support. Research investment will need to focus on applied transdisciplinary problems. Government will need to remove perverse subsidies detrimental to biodiversity, such as in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Fishing subsidies encourage overexploitation of two-thirds of fish stocks across the globe, threatening both the fishing industry (worth $80 billion to $100 billion per year) and the 27 million people dependent on it (5, 73). Government policy needs to integrate biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation, and the demands of a sustainable economy (74) to meet the Millennium Development Goals (75).
The actions of the private sector are central to the future of biodiversity, as the CBD recognized in the context of the 2010 biodiversity target. Corporate environmental performance is increasingly important to investors and therefore corporate leaders (76), and many initiatives now exist to address corporate biodiversity impacts in particular business sectors or individual corporations (e.g., in minerals extraction). Yet a recent survey found that only two of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 companies recognize biodiversity to be of strategic importance to their business (5). Biodiversity lacks the visibility achieved by energy and climate change as issues important to corporate decision makers (77). Consistent government regulation is important in providing a level playing field for corporate environmental innovation and competition, but there are challenges in extending regulation internationally (78)...."
There's a lot of stuff here related to our class. Personally I was really excited to read this in Science, as these are messages that colleagues and I have been trying to deliver for a long time. I highly recommend reading the whole article.
Anyone care to attempt a summary sentence or two?
Anyone care to attempt a summary sentence or two?