meet the scale and scope of current and future challenges, and emphasized the opportunity—and urgency—for U.S. leadership in taking domestic action and bringing nations together. Two opportunities that several speakers mentioned specifically as vehicles for international cooperation were enhanced trade regulation and the nascent Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).7

THEME 8: ACCOUNTING FOR THE VALUE OF NATURE

Some speakers contended that ecosystems and biodiversity will continue to suffer as long as economic incentives and associated social pressures fail to incorporate nonmarket externalities and to favor short-term exploitation and damage without regard to long-term sustainable management. Ecosystem services, they said, are frequently ignored because they are outside the market and so are unpriced, or because they involve services that are “public goods” that are open to all—this despite the fact that many ecosystem services, such as the provision of fresh water, are of fundamental importance, and degradation of such services has broad consequences. Proposals were made in some presentations to expand the system of national accounts to include changes in nonmarketed ecosystem services, and to record changes in the value of ecosystems (natural capital), to support public environmental decision making and encourage the design of policies that promote more sustainable economic growth that assures the long-term availability of vital ecosystem services.

Drawing on the eight themes that emerged from the speakers’ presentations at the symposium may help those scientists, nongovernmental organizations, and policy makers who are attempting to work more effectively together toward improving the future management of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as the goods and services on which we all depend.

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7IPBES.net, accessed May 2011.



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