Friday, January 29, 2010

progress without gdp led growth

Ecologist | Deutsche Bank economist Pavan Sukhdev is heading up the groundbreaking TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) report and doing for nature what Sir Nicholas Stern did for climate change - valuing it. Listen to the interview.

Tom Levitt: Why are we putting a value on nature, why don't we just close off and protect it?

Pavan Sukhdev: The Ecologist may say that but there are a hundred thousand other people who are social NGOs and politicians looking for votes at the next election who will say, ah ha! that is just an ecologist talking who loves nature and does not care for your well-being because guess what I have built a railroad, built a bridge, given you a job and provided you with an electricity connection. 



That is the person the Ecologist needs to answer, by saying ecology - in other words natural capital - used properly can also give you the jobs that you seek.

Forest maintained can also provide the poor with the fresh water that they want and guess what, yes you need to build bridges but you can do that in a way that is more earth-friendly, less carbon intensive in manufacture and creates some local opportunity as opposed to just profits for the builders who built the bridge. 



You have to have counter arguments that are being made explicitly or implicitly because sometimes this is not even said and people just go-ahead and destroy and there is no question of listening to the ecologist because he is "just a greenie who loves nature".

People are not even looking at the economic value of the conservation alternative or the natural capital value of nature.



TL: Do you think politicians and economists actually understand the terms 'ecosystem services' and 'biodiversity'?

PS: A lot of them do. You can go back to Obama's acceptance speech when he talked about: ‘harnessing the power of the wind and the waves, harnessing sunlight, freeing ourselves from the shackles of oil’.

He was talking about a better understanding of nature and what it brings to us and how we can leverage it into our economies better instead of the way we do it now, which is to dig it from the ancient sunlight buried millions of years ago.