Living sustainably on Earth requires taking into account all the advantages nature offers people and rethinking what a “high quality of life” is, according to a four-year review by 82 top scientists.
According to a UN assessment, the market’s emphasis on short-term profits and economic progress has led to decisions that have decreased people’s wellbeing and exacerbated climate and environmental crises while ignoring the larger advantages of nature. Decision-making processes must incorporate qualitative techniques in order to achieve sustainable development.
According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services study, this entails adequately appreciating the spiritual, cultural, and emotional benefits that nature provides to people (Ipbes). More than 13,000 sources, including academic publications, local and indigenous sources of knowledge, and scientific studies, are cited in the assessment. Collaboration with professionals in the social sciences, economics, and humanities was undertaken.
The research expands on the Dasgupta analysis, which determined that the failure of economics to account for the genuine worth of nature is putting the Earth at “severe risk.” According to the paper, incorporating various worldviews and knowledge systems will be essential for achieving a more sustainable future.
There has been a predominate method of making decisions based on things that look more simple, super-quantitative, and more scientific, and we’re saying: “No, that’s not good science,” according to Prof. Unai Pascual of the Basque Centre for Climate Change, who co-chaired the assessment on the diverse values and valuation of nature. Numerous social sciences, humanities, and other knowledge systems can also provide us with instructions on how to proceed.
The review identifies four broad viewpoints that should be considered: “living from nature,” which refers to its capacity to meet our needs for food and material goods; “living with nature,” which emphasizes the right of non-human life to flourish; “living in nature,” which emphasizes the right of people to a sense of place and identity; and finally, “living as nature,” which views the natural world as an essential component of what it means to be human.
According to Prof. Mike Christie of the business school at Aberystwyth University, “the sort and quality of information that valuation studies can yield greatly depends on how, why, and by whom valuation is planned and performed.” This affects who and which natural values would be taken into account when making decisions, as well as how evenly the rewards and costs of such actions would be allocated.
Researchers discovered that just 2% of studies took stakeholder values into account, despite the fact that there are 50 distinct methodologies and approaches for making the value of nature visible in choices. According to writers, there are numerous technologies that can be used in the future to make the virtues of nature visible. Using citizen assemblies, which represent a particular people’s sociology and allow them a chance to talk about their values, interests, and understandings, is one method of operation. Many nations are experiencing these on a national level.
The Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which involves decision-makers in ceremonies and “experiencing” the land together, is one example of how indigenous perspectives have been successfully incorporated into planning. The Indian government’s decision to forgo mining close to the Niyamgiri mountain, which is revered by the Dongaria Kondh people, was another. It was believed that the intrinsic value of the site for endangered species and its significance to indigenous peoples’ cultures and spirituality outweighed the financial benefits of mining it.
According to Prof. Patricia Balvanera of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who served as the assessment’s co-chair, there are negative effects of disregarding other values, such as environmental leaders losing their lives because their land claims were disregarded. “The research indicates that if local values are taken into account right away, people will feel like they are a part of the project and will be more supportive of whatever was decided… Redefining “progress” and “high quality of life” is necessary, as is acknowledging the variety of relationships between people and the natural world, according to the author.
Representatives from 139 countries in the German city of Bonn endorsed the evaluation. Pascual states, “The delegates who supported this report feel this is a game-changer. This [report] is one component out of many that will be required to persuade extremely powerful stakeholders and decision-makers to start changing the way they treat nature. “They realize we’ve been going through a way of understanding nature in a too-narrow sense, and that has brought us to this situation where we live on a planet with interconnected crises,” the author writes.
Ipbes, which functions as the IPCC for biodiversity, was established to offer governments throughout the world scientific guidance on how to safeguard the environment. It published another study last week that revealed overexploitation is threatening the future of wild species, which are used to feed half of the world’s population.
The findings, according to the authors, should make a significant contribution to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Cop15 in Montreal in December, which will establish the following decade’s nature targets. “I congratulate the work of all Ipbes specialists for this and look forward to its active usage by all parties and stakeholders to the convention,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of CBD.
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