Contrasting Values in the Sustainability Debate: Limitations of Economic Valuations and their Role in Decision-making
Please cite the paper as:
Andrew L. Fanning, (2012), Contrasting Values in the Sustainability Debate: Limitations of Economic Valuations and their Role in Decision-making, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 2 2012, Sustainability – Missing Points in the Development Dialogue, 24th September to 21st October, 2012
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 social goals being pursued by any given policy/action and that the degree in 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 allocative efficiency, but they must be accompanied by a similar ‘conversion’ of how much economic activity ‘contributes’ to the goal of ecological sustainability.