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Learning to value nature? International organizations and the promotion of ecosystem services

Hayley Stevenson, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Tue 11 December 2018

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


The idea of valuing nature has become a core element of contemporary sustainable development and green economy agendas. This has been enabled by the widespread acceptance of the ‘ecosystems services’ concept, which tries to capture the value of the environment for human wellbeing. As the ecosystem services concept is embedded in development planning and economic policy-making, it is important to understand the opportunities it creates for environmental conservation and social development, and its inherent tensions and limitations. This requires a degree of reflexivity in policy-making to ensure that policies are informed by the historical lessons of ecosystem services experiments, the diverse knowledge of contemporary stakeholders, and self-critical awareness of uncertainty and multiple ontological perspectives. An international research team led by Hayley Stevenson and James Meadowcroft is studying the emergence and political uptake of this concept at international and national levels. In this presentation Hayley will share some initial findings about how nature valuation has been integrated into the work of international environmental and development agencies, and the patterns of reflexivity we observe. These findings also cast doubt on the political future of the ecosystem services concept.

About the speaker

Hayley Stevenson is Associate Professor in International Relations at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Argentina), and Reader in Politics at the University of Sheffield (UK). She is the author of Institutionalizing Unsustainability, Democratizing Global Climate Governance (with John S. Dryzek), and Global Environmental Politics: Problems, Policy, and Practice. She is currently leading an international project with James Meadowcroft, “Ecosystem Services: Valuing Nature for Sustainable Development and a Green Economy”.

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