Biodiversity: An Economic Approach
Giles Atkinson

Seminar Introduction

imageBiodiversity is an issue that is sometimes viewed in isolation. Environmentalism does not occur in a sphere of its own: it is of crucial importance that we integrate it into our vision of a functioning society and economy.

Conserving biodiversity will confer costs on society as well as benefits. How can this trade-off be measured and justified? Recognising the opportunity cost of biodiversity conservation is the first important step towards integrating knowledge and research about the environment into national social and economic infrastructures, enabling a more informed and effective program of sustainable development to be established.

In this seminar, Giles Atkinson examines the economics of biodiversity conservation. In Session 1 he explores the failure of the world currently to provide 'enough' biodiversity as a problem of economic failure. A starting point for the task of correcting this failure is a demonstration of the benefits of biodiversity conservation and the design of mechanisms that enable the capture of these values in order to properly finance increased conservation efforts. In Session 2 he considers the importance of biodiversity in broader sustainable development strategies, and in Session 3 he explores this in detail by taking the case study of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Finally, he asks how countries can usefully pursue policies aimed at sustainable development and how this can be accurately measured.

  • Session 1 The Economics of Biodiversity Conservation
  • Session 2 Biodiversity and Sustainable Development
  • Session 3 Conserving Biodiversity: Kew Gardens
  • Session 4 Accounting for Sustainable Development
Learning Objectives:
  • Recognise the opportunity costs of biodiversity conservation.
  • Explain the importance of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew from the perspective of biodiversity conservation.
  • Describe how biodiversity has an impact on sustainable development.
  • List the sustainability indicators commonly used by governments to measure sustainable development.
  • Describe how such indicators could reflect economic as well as environmental concerns.

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