Keynote Lecture Series: Valuing the Invaluable

The second of the Valuing Nature Keynote Lecture Series was given by Richard Gunton from the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus, a £3m national research centre hosted by the University of Surrey.

Date: Monday, 3rd July 2017 - 17:30 to 20:00

Venue: St Trinnean's Room, St Leonards Hall, 18 Holyrood Park Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5AY.

Abstract:Valuing nature in practice means quantifying the diverse ways in which different people appreciate specific natural places.  The ecosystem services framework, and the related concept of natural capital, have provided some useful tools and methods for assessment of natural resources.  They fail, however, to capture the full diversity of humans' appreciation for our environment because of both their origins in microeconomics and a prevalent assumption of the Benevolence of Nature.  In this lecture I will demonstrate some of the logical and ethical problems that can arise from economic thinking in this area and then show how a framework explicitly focused on human subjects can better capture the full range of ways in which people value natural places.  Such an "ecosystem valuing framework" can help us quantify the diverse aspects in which humans and indeed non-human organisms value nature, and move environmental policy-making in more democratic directions.

Biography: Dr Gunton studied ecology at Cambridge and Leeds and then undertook field research on South African and Australian woodlands. Back in Europe his research has focused on arable ecology, biodiversity patterns and conservation ethics. He is the lead author of 11 articles and 2 book chapters spanning a wide range of interests in ecology and philosophy of science. His interests in sustainability and complexity have recently led him to a new research position in financial systems stability and a fellowship with the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN).


The lecture was followed by responses from the following Panelists:

Michael Winter (Chair) Professor of Land Economy and Society, Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (University of Exeter). Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Professor Emily Brady - Professor of Environment and Philosophy, The University of Edinburgh.

Guy Duke Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team and Deputy Chair of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Delegates participated in a Q&A session to round off the evening.