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Beyond Economic Efficiency and Towards Coping with Complexity in Biodiversity Conservation

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Gatzweiler, Franz W.; Volkmann, Jörg
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/666
Sector: Theory
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
conservation--case studies
biodiversity--case studies
valuation--case studies
Abstract: "This paper aims to explain why it is important to move from economic efficiency to complexity-led approaches for the purpose of biodiversity conservation. Economic values of biodiversity are not a sufficient reason for deciding to conserve biodiversity. Achieving economic efficiency requires the internalization of values of biodiversity which are outside the economic system and a rational choice among conservation alternatives in favor of those with higher net benefits. But economic valuation methods are themselves 'value articulating institutions' influencing the outcome of the valuation exercise. As biodiversity conservation confronts us with very complex social-ecological systems, the choice of the 'value articulating institutions' needs to consider their various features and functions. The choice of conserving biodiversity or not can not be made on the grounds of economic valuation alone because that choice itself requires addressing a second-order problem: the choice of a valuation method. Methods are required which help to understand systems' behavior, that are able to bring together multiple stakeholders and initiate deliberative, social processes of choice-making. The choice of valuation and decision making tools needs to match the complex nature of the task. Therefore, the question involved in successful biodiversity conservation is not only which conservation strategy is economically preferred but also which method should be used to articulate and account for people's biodiversity values. This involves a choice of the type of rationality and the type of social process applied in the decision-making process. Institutions and governance structures at all scales are needed to conserve biodiversity. This process begins with the choice of an adequate mix of valuation methods ranging from balancing costs and benefits to processes of awareness building, communication and negotiation. The Vester Sensitivity Model was used to model the socio-ecological system 'coffee forest' with stakeholders in Ethiopia, and facilitate first steps in a participatory and deliberative process towards biodiversity conservation."

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