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Photo: Pixabay Royalty-free
the economic value
of biodiversity

'Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs,

but not every man's greed'

(Mahatma Gandhi)

Our social values are characterized by 'ECONOMIC CAPITAL'. Everything has a price.

All consumer goods and services as land, buildings, labor, machinery, financial capital and technology are defined in terms of monetary values.

And the total value of all these goods is combined into GDP (Gross Domestic Product), which in turn reflects the quality of our standard of living.


However, nature is not (yet) defined as capital in the financial world and therefore has no price!
Approximating an economic definition 'NATURAL CAPITAL' would stand for the monetary value of global Biodiversity, i.e. the valued variety of all genes, species and ecosystems (biotopes) of our planet.

The return on capital or the dividends from natural capital would therefore be the services of nature that enable us to live on earth. These are referred to as ECOSYSTEM SERVICES.


So far, however, both NATURAL CAPITAL and its dividends have been available to us free of charge. Therefore, when consuming natural capital and using ecosystem services, we think neither of precautionary handling nor of restraint. 

In the last 50 years man has exploited the natural reserves so unrestrainedly that the consequences of the LOSS of BIODIVERSITY, the finite nature of planetary resources and the degradation of ecosystems are becoming more and more visible and noticeable.

precisely for this reason, NATURAL CAPITAL - biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services - must be assigned an ECONOMIC VALUE, a price!

Only if a price is paid for the use of natural capital or if a monetary consideration is provided we can ensure a future worth living for ourselves and future generations.

"We have to be very careful to preserve and protect our valuable natural capital. It must not be thoughtlessly exploited. The nature around us needs the attention of every individual on the one hand, but above all public and private capital to protect and restore species-rich ecosystems. Business and politics are called upon to create the necessary framework conditions for this."
KLAUS TÖPFER - former Federal Minister for the Environment

​At first glance, such an economic valuation for NATURAL CAPITAL hardly seems possible.

How should a price for biodiversity or the economic value of a given living being - plants, insects, mammals and humans - be determined and set?

But the valorization of NATURAL CAPITAL must take place so that its use, damage or destruction can be attributed and compensated according to the originator.

​Because the loss of natural capital through the exploitation of planetary resources, which is still free of charge, leads to a rapidIncrease in damage and consequential costs, reparation payments, expenditure on restoring infrastructure, securing the health system and stabilizing prosperity.

Only a few currently benefit from the free use and unfortunately often exploitation of natural capital, while the damage costs are passed on to the general public.

Image by Vincent van Zalinge

KLAUS TÖPFER, former Federal Minister for the Environment

The diverse Ecosystem Services (ESS) are important prerequisites for economic prosperity.
They are the basis of human existence and the basis of our economic prosperity.

Many private and public decision-makers are still not sufficiently aware of the essential need to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services (ESS) as a basic requirement for the economic and social well-being of mankind. This is partly due to the fact that companies are not even aware of the negative and sometimes even devastating effects of their core business on biodiversity.

Therefore, an economic evaluation, a "pricing" of biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services is the basis for the general understanding that NATURAL CAPITAL is a finite resource, i.e. a scarce economic good. The extraction and consumption of natural resources must "cost something" in the future!

​​​Based on numerous international examples, it has been shown that the protection and sustainable use of nature and biological diversity is also economically worthwhile.
Because making provisions to secure our livelihood and economic basis is significantly cheaper than trying to replace what has been lost.

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