Title: Contrasting values in the sustainability debate: limitations of economic valuations and their role in decision-making

Authors: Andrew L. Fanning

Addresses: Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y Ambientales, Universidad de Cádiz, Polígono San Pedro s/n, Aulario Norte, Puerto Real 11519, Spain

Abstract: This paper explores some of the more controversial conceptual issues surrounding ecosystem valuations in monetary terms along with their role in the greater decision-making process. I argue that there is an urgent need to be explicit about the underlying ideologies and social goals being pursued by any given policy/action. The degree to which a given policy makes trade-offs between achieving each goal should also be transparent. In the context of the sustainability debate, economic valuations of ecosystems can provide missing information necessary for achieving the goal of consumptive efficiency, but they must be accompanied by a similar 'conversion' of how much economic activity contributes to the goal of ecological sustainability.

Keywords: values; sustainability debate; economic valuation; utilitarianism; decision making; ecosystem services; monetary valuation; ideologies; social goals; consumptive efficiency; ecological sustainability; just distribution; sustainable development.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSD.2016.077205

International Journal of Sustainable Development, 2016 Vol.19 No.2, pp.185 - 200

Accepted: 12 Oct 2014
Published online: 22 Jun 2016 *

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