Who should value nature? Interview with Joan Carling

Is valuing nature as natural capital the way to reduce environmental degradation or a dangerous distraction that will commodify the environment? Alongside debates on if we should value natural capital is another question that is very rarely asked: who should value nature?

This exclusive interview with Joan Carling is from the report Who should value nature? by Dario Kenner (Why Green Economy?) published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in December 2014. The report explores how different stakeholders value the environment (ranging from consultancies firms, academics, conservation NGOs to indigenous peoples) and the challenge of identifying who should be involved in valuation in developing countries. Read the report © ICAEW 2014


Joan CarlingInterview with Joan Carling, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact. Member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Founded in 1988 the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact has 47 members from 14 countries in Asia. Based in Thailand.

1) Explain why you think nature should/should not be valued?

Nature should be valued but not only in terms of money/commercial use but also in terms of spirituality, culture, identity, livelihoods, humanities’ wellbeing and life-support.

2) Who should be involved in valuing nature in your country? Who should not be involved? e.g. government, accountants, business, academics, indigenous peoples….

All stakeholders should be involved, and the different perspective and views of nature shall be accounted for and respected, not just the monetary and commercial values of nature.

3) How do you think different stakeholders including governments, companies, and indigenous peoples will value nature? e.g. are certain stakeholders likely to use monetary or non-monetary values?

Valuing nature should account for the  different “ values” in terms of both material and immaterial values of nature . It should account for the common good  and  for equitable benefits and use, management and conservation of nature to support even the future generations; accounting, respecting and enhancing  the value of nature especially to those who depend on it in terms of their distinct and sustainable lifestyles i.e. indigenous peoples,

4) To make a successful business case to protect nature do you think a monetary value has to be placed on nature? Would a non-monetary value be as effective?

Making a business case of nature is already skewed if the aim is to generate profit. Instead, nature should be valued as humanities’ life-support systems that needs to be used, managed, protected and conserve to meet the objective needs of humanity in a way that it also provides for the  future generation. While it may be useful to put a price tag or monetary value to certain elements, it should not be for business as usual in terms of exploiting nature for the profit to companies/corporations, but how it should be used in an equitable manner – addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor, and balancing equity as opposed to creating more gaps between the rich and poor countries, and individual citizens. The use, management, utilisation and conservation of nature should not be put in the hands of corporations and corrupt states but should be in the hands of peoples who know the real value of nature beyond monetary terms.

Find out more: Overview of the state of indigenous peoples in Asia


Do you agree with Joan Carling? See what others think by clicking on the interviews below and join the debate by adding your comments.

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