Beyond Economic Efficiency in Biodiversity Conservation

This paper aims at explaining the importance of the democracy stance as compared to the efficiency stance in order to deal with complexity in biodiversity conservation. While the efficiency stance refers to the realm of relatively simple systems, individual rationality, and instrumental values, the complexity stance transcends these boundaries into the realm of complex systems, social rationality and intrinsic values. We argue that the task of biodiversity conservation is impossible to achieve in economically efficient ways, because (a) it is impossible to come to a (fully informed) complete account of all values, not only because it is costly but also because (b) moral values are involved which (by their nature) exclude themselves from being accounted for, and (c) biodiversity conservation can be regarded as an end in itself instead of only a means towards an end. The point we raise is, that in order to cope with biodiversity conservation we need to apply valuation methods which are from the complexity stance, take better account of intrinsic values and feelings, as well as consider social rationality. Economic valuation methods are themselves 'value articulating institutions' and as biodiversity conservation confronts us with the complexity of social-ecological systems, the choice of the 'value articulating institutions' needs to consider their ability to capture instrumental and intrinsic values of biodiversity. We demonstrate a method, based on cybernetics, which is able to take into account the issues raised.

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Working or Discussion Paper
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JEL Codes:
B52; Q51; Q57
Series Statement:
ICAR Discussion Paper 18/2007

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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