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Beyond economic efficiency in biodiversity conservation

Über die ökonomische Leistungsfähigkeit der Erhaltung der Biodiversität hinaus
[working paper]

Gatzweiler, Franz W.; Volkmann, Jörg

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Corporate Editor Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaus, Fachgebiet Ressourcenökonomie
Abstract This paper aims at explaining the importance of the democracy stance as compared to the efficiency stance in order to deal with complexity in biodiversity conservation. While the efficiency stance refers to the realm of relatively simple systems, individual rationality, and instrumental values, the complexity stance transcends these boundaries into the realm of complex systems, social rationality and intrinsic values. We argue that the task of biodiversity conservation is impossible to achieve in economically efficient ways, because (a) it is impossible to come to a (fully informed) complete account of all values, not only because it is costly but also because (b) moral values are involved which (by their nature) exclude themselves from being accounted for, and (c) biodiversity conservation can be regarded as an end in itself instead of only a means towards an end. The point we raise is, that in order to cope with biodiversity conservation we need to apply valuation methods which are from the complexity stance, take better account of intrinsic values and feelings, as well as consider social rationality. Economic valuation methods are themselves 'value articulating institutions' and as biodiversity conservation confronts us with the complexity of social-ecological systems, the choice of the 'value articulating institutions' needs to consider their ability to capture instrumental and intrinsic values of biodiversity. We demonstrate a method, based on cybernetics, which is able to take into account the issues raised.
Keywords performance; biodiversity; attitude; democracy; economic efficiency; conservation; environmental protection; rationality; value-orientation; value; method; political factors; institutional factors
Classification Ecology, Environment
Method basic research; theory formation
Free Keywords Biodiversity conservation; efficiency; complexity; values; institutions
Document language English
Publication Year 2007
City Berlin
Page/Pages 28 p.
Series Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ICAR) : Discussion Papers, 18
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence