Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

2010 Convention on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services (Sorta)

Posted 27 Oct 2010 / 0

There was an interesting piece today on Public Radio International‘s The World about the Convention on Biological Diversity (taking place in Japan) called “Environment Biodiversity as natural capital“.

Guest Thomas Lovejoy talks about various examples of natural capital, including the oft-cited example of how New York City’s watershed was preserved through a valuation of ecosystem services (although the term “ecosystem service” was not ever mentioned). He also talks about Costa Rican coffee plantations that preserve forest function as well as the problems associated with short-term conversion of ecosystems into plantations and fish farms.

Lovejoy discusses one of the main goals of the summit as protecting a quarter of the lands and ocean from development, which is kind of interesting and at the same time sad given what a low ambition this really is (even as there is risk that this low mark will fail to be reached).

Given that I make ecosystem services a centerpiece concept in my Ecology course, it may be that I expect more, but I found this piece to be depressingly shallow. Missing is the idea of environmental injustice, caused when a few profit from the short-term exploitation of “natural capital” and thereby deprive many of the steady, dependable supply of life-giving ecosystem services. Would it have been too much to ask for either Lovejoy or host Lisa Mullins to probe a little deeper into the implications of allowing continued “free” exploitation of natural capital by a wealthy global minority?

Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Radio & Podcasts

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