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Shared wealth or nobody's land? The worth of natural capital and ecosystem services


  • Ulgiati, Sergio
  • Zucaro, Amalia
  • Franzese, Pier Paolo


The prerequisite for a sustainable and equitable use of common resources (the so-called Commons) must be the proper evaluation of their role within the complex network of relationships that ensure ecosystems functioning, resilience, and evolutionary dynamics. It is crucial to ascertain to what extent the common wealth is used for the common benefit. Money-based schemes for valuing the Commons, such as the so-called "willingness-to-pay", provide a user-side evaluation perspective based on the idea that value only stems from utilization by humans. As a complement to such a point of view, we present and discuss in this paper a donor-side evaluation method (Emergy Synthesis) based on the idea that a proper measure of value can be achieved by also accounting for the work done by the biosphere in generating services and resources. It should not be disregarded that such resources and services also provide support to other species in the web of life. Emergy, a scientific measure of such environmental support, is suggested as a tool capable to assess quantity and quality of shared resources, thus providing a basis for their environmentally sound management.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulgiati, Sergio & Zucaro, Amalia & Franzese, Pier Paolo, 2011. "Shared wealth or nobody's land? The worth of natural capital and ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 778-787, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:4:p:778-787

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sciubba, Enrico & Ulgiati, Sergio, 2005. "Emergy and exergy analyses: Complementary methods or irreducible ideological options?," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1953-1988.
    2. repec:eee:ecomod:v:222:y:2011:i:3:p:879-887 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Faber, Malte, 2008. "How to be an ecological economist," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-7, May.
    4. Costanza, Robert, 1989. "What is ecological economics?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-7, February.
    5. repec:eee:ecomod:v:221:y:2010:i:20:p:2501-2508 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:ecomod:v:221:y:2010:i:3:p:445-452 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Patterson, Murray, 1998. "Commensuration and theories of value in ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 105-126, April.
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    4. Giannetti, B.F. & Ogura, Y. & Bonilla, S.H. & Almeida, C.M.V.B., 2011. "Emergy assessment of a coffee farm in Brazilian Cerrado considering in a broad form the environmental services, negative externalities and fair price," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(9), pages 679-688.
    5. repec:eee:ecomod:v:289:y:2014:i:c:p:124-132 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Jaklič, Tina & Juvančič, Luka & Kavčič, Stane & Debeljak, Marko, 2014. "Complementarity of socio-economic and emergy evaluation of agricultural production systems: The case of Slovenian dairy sector," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 469-481.
    7. repec:eee:ecomod:v:223:y:2011:i:1:p:81-90 is not listed on IDEAS
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    10. Antonio Tencati & Laszlo Zsolnai, 2012. "Collaborative Enterprise and Sustainability: The Case of Slow Food," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 345-354, October.
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