To value or not to value? That is not the question
Should we reject money when we value nature? Like most environmentalists, ecological economists are increasingly divided on this question. Synthesizing political ecology with ecological economics, we argue that this way of framing the question is limited. We propose a reformulation of the question into “when and how to value with money?” and “under what conditions?” We recommend four criteria for a sound choice: environmental improvement; distributive justice and equality; maintenance of plural value-articulating institutions; and, confronting commodification under neo-liberalism. We call for due attention to the socio-political context within which a valuation is placed and the political goals it serves. The relevance of this framework is demonstrated by applying it to three practical cases: pollution damages, water pricing and payments for ecosystem services.
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