IPBES: Don't throw out the baby whilst keeping the bathwater : Put people's values central, not nature's contributions

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IPBES has replaced the term ‘ecosystem services’ with ‘nature's contributions to people’. This make-over does little to address the semantic problems associated with ecosystem services. The ‘new’ term still characterises the relation between nature and people as one-way and the value of nature as instrumental (as a provider of benefits), masking human agency and broader values. By replacing ecosystem services with a near-synonymous term, IPBES ditches the baby (the successful term ecosystem services), whilst keeping the dirty bathwater (the problems with the term). This distracts from the otherwise much-improved comprehensiveness of its valuation framework in terms of pluralism. To be genuinely inclusive, IPBES should use an altogether different headline terminology that centres around people's values and makes objects of value such as ecosystem services subsidiary. This allows diverse conceptions of human-nature relating and plural values of nature to genuinely stand on a par, whilst not ditching the baby. In the end, we can only integrate values in environmental governance, not services or contributions — ultimately it is the societal importance ascribed to nature that matters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-43
Number of pages4
JournalEcosystem Services
Issue numberPart A
Early online date28 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

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