Biodiversity Values Assessment
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the scientific assessment process for the Convention on Biological Diversity, equivalent to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It has prepared a special report on the many ways of understanding the values of biodiversity, ranging from material to spiritual and including Indigenous world-views. The Summary for Policy-Makers (SPM) issued 1 August 2022 gives its important messages. These are very close to the concerns of the International Environment Forum to bring together scientific and spiritual perspectives.
The question addressed is how we value nature. At one extreme nature is seen only as a resource to be exploited to make money, like cutting down the trees in a forest for timber. Then there are people who believe they are part of nature, for whom a tree may be their ancestor, and if they must cut a tree they render thanks and ask for forgiveness. For others a tree might be a source of beauty or a metaphor for a fruitful life.
One important observation in the report is that, even when such alternative values are documented and shown to be important to many people, they are almost never taken into account in decision-making, which is often dominated by economic decisions that ignore other values. The report suggests ways to address this.
It is significant that the IPBES, as an official international scientific assessment body answerable to governments, has recognized and explored these intangible values of nature, and asked how they can all be taken into account in decision-making for sustainability. It is an exploration of the relationships between humans and nature, an issue that has also been addressed by the Bahá’í International Community in its 2022 statement One Planet, One Habitation.
We have posted on the IEF website in Biodiversity Values Assessment the essential parts of the SPM, including the ten Key Messages of the report with their explanations, as well as the headlines of the Background Messages. These are grouped as: A. Understanding the diverse values of nature; B. Measuring and making visible the values of nature; C. Leveraging the diverse values of nature for transformative change towards sustainability; and D. Embedding the values of nature for transformative decision-making for sustainability.
There are also two boxes in the SPM of particular interest to IEF: A values perspective on justice and power; and Pathways that contribute to just and sustainable futures and that prioritize distinct underlying values of nature.
We have also prepared this material as a Study Guide 134 slide presentation in pdf (10 mb) for those who may wish to study it together.
Last updated 27 October 2022