Market value underestimates the total value of nature



Negotiations at the 9th IPBES Plenary meeting, World Conference Center, Bonn, Germany (Image : IISD/ENB – Diego Noguera)
Market value underestimates the total value of nature
post by
Kelle Moreau

Following the launch of the Sustainable Use of Wild Species Assessment Report on 8 July 2022, the IPBES has released on 11 July a second major scientific document, the Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature (known as the “Values Assessment”). The report was approved Saturday 9 July by representatives of its 139 member States at the end of the one-week long  9th Plenary taking place in Bonn, Germany (#IPBES9). The IPBES Values Assessment responds to the need to support decision-makers in understanding and accounting for the wide range of nature’s values in policy decisions in order to address the current biodiversity crisis and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The new Assessment is deeply cross-disciplinary, based predominantly on social science, humanities and economics. 82 top international experts from 47 countries from all regions of the world have worked on it for four years. They drew on more than 13,000 references, including scientific publications and sources of indigenous and local knowledge, and built on the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment. Thanks to rigorous review by scientists, policy-makers (including governments) and experts with indigenous and local knowledge, the report ensures the highest possible accuracy, reliability and policy relevance.

The report provides a novel and comprehensive typology of Nature’s values, as well as guidance for combining and embedding these very diverse values into decision-making about Nature and people, beyond the usual economic benefits and short-term profits. It highlights the importance of a pluralistic valuation approach, which up to now has been overlooked in policy decisions, and presents over 50 methods to make the diversity of values of Nature more visible and integrated into decisions. It supports the idea of a more global transformative change of society that is needed to address the biodiversity crisis.

Overall, the report aims to contribute to the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and support implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (expected to be agreed this year), as well as to help navigate the pathways to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


IPBES in Belgium

Often described as the ‘IPCC for Biodiversity’, IPBES is the global science-policy body, composed of almost 140 Governments, tasked with strengthening the science-policy interface for biodiversity, and therefore, to provide the best-available evidence to decision-makers, for people and nature. In Belgium, the IPBES National Focal Point (NFP) is observed by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform, a national science-policy interface supported by Belspo which in turn is hosted by four institutions: BelSPO, RBINS, INBO, and DEMNA (SPW). The activities of the NFP consist of, among others, engaging Belgian experts and stakeholders in the IPBES work programme and activities, and in heading the Belgian Delegation in plenary sessions.



Sander Jacobs, INBO - “The IPBES global and regional assessments have pointed to the worldwide, rapid and human-induced destruction of biodiversity, the erosion of ecosystem services and the decrease of quality of life. One root cause of this crisis is the way certain values of nature have influenced decisions. The 'values assessment' synthesises key insights from academia and local knowledge in how humans have valued nature, how this has led -or misled- our relationship with 'mother earth'. The assessment also points out how a more plural valuation practice might contribute to a transformation of this relationship and resolution of the crisis.”

Inge Liekens, VITO - “As an environmental economist I have done quite some valuation studies on ecosystem services. Although economic (and more stringent monetary) valuation has its merits, I have always campaigned to broaden the scope and take multiple values into account. I sincerely hope that the key insights of the IPBES values assessment will enhance the more plural valuation practice and will transform our way of living with nature so the biodiversity crisis can be tackled.”

Nicolas Dendoncker, UNamur - “The IPBES report on the values of nature was co-authored by a team of 82 authors who are highly interdisciplinary (from anthropology to ecology), which gives it a great epistemic richness, essential given the subject matter. It insists, among other things, on the need to adopt a variety of methods for valuation, in order to account for the plurality of existing values. This can lead to more ecological justice.”

Subscribe to Royal belgian Institute for natural Sciences News
Go to top