Nature as Foundation of Economy: Investing in Natural Infrastructure for Conservation Supporting Human Development

David Monsma

This report looks at several "First Principles for Conservation and Human Development Dialogue" and notes that "these principles formalized a new approach to conservation that will develop effective protection of natural resources by informing strategies with economic and human development needs, while maintaining that human development efforts would be more effective if integrated with conservation principles."

The report concludes that: "A transformation of conservation methods needs to occur. Only when the value of “ecosystem services” is incorporated into business, community and government decisions can the benefits from nature—like flood protection, crop pollination and carbon storage—become part of traditional economic calculations. Presently, there is no economic value placed the ecosystem services we care about. Since traditional economic calculations often ignore nature’s value, the results frequently lead to the destruction of the very ecosystems upon which economic development is based. While nature's services do not necessarily need to have a monetary value assigned to them, the conservation community can strive to make explicit the dependency of business and communities on functioning ecosystems, the risks that businesses and communities face when they are lost and the benefits garnered in restoring them."

This is one of a series of periodic reports of the Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program's Dialogue Series on Conservation in the 21st Century, an ongoing nonpartisan dialogue on the future of conservation, society and the environment.

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