IPBES Values Assessment finds more than 50 methods and approaches exist to make the diverse values of nature visible.

The way nature is valued in political and economic decisions is both a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis and a vital opportunity to address it, according to a four-year methodological assessment by 82 top scientists and experts from every region of the world.

The IPBES released a new major scientific report, the Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature (Values Assessment) which finds that there is a dominant global focus on short-term profits and economic growth, often excluding the consideration of multiple values of nature in policy decisions. The report was first approved in July 2022 by representatives of its 139 member States in Bonn, Germany (#IPBES9) and published in its final version in October 2022.

Going Beyond Market Values

The IPBES Values Assessment responds to the need to support decision-makers in understanding and accounting for the wide range of nature’s values in policy decisions in order to address the current biodiversity crisis and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Economic and political decisions have predominantly prioritised certain values of nature, particularly market-based instrumental values of nature. Although often privileged in policymaking, these market values do not adequately reflect how changes in nature affect people’s quality of life. Furthermore, policymaking overlooks the many non-market values associated with nature’s contributions to people, such as climate regulation and cultural identity.

"This report shows that nature has very diverse values which are not always accounted for in policymaking,” said Dr. Ignacio Palomo, MRI SLC member and lead author of Chapter 3: Different valuation methodologies and approaches. “Over 50 valuation methods exist to make those values visible and quantify them. Achieving a just and sustainable future requires decision-making to integrate this diversity of values of nature and of nature's contributions to people.”

Values-centered Leverage Points for More Sustainable and Just Futures

Deeply cross-disciplinary and, based on a large review conducted by experts in social science, economics, and the humanities, the Values Assessment draws on more than 13,000 references – including scientific papers and information sources from indigenous and local knowledge. It also builds directly on the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment, which identified the role of economic growth as a key driver of nature loss, with 1 million species of plants and animals now at risk of extinction.

The authors identify four, values-centered ‘leverage points' that can help create the conditions for the transformative change necessary for more sustainable and just futures:

  • Recognizing the diverse values of nature
  • Embedding valuation into decision-making
  • Reforming policies and regulations to internalize nature’s values
  • Shifting underlying societal norms and goals to align with global sustainability and justice objectives

“Our analysis shows that various pathways can contribute to achieve just and sustainable futures. The report pays specific attention to future pathways related to ‘green economy’, ‘degrowth’, ‘Earth stewardship’, and ‘nature protection’. Although each pathway is underpinned by different values, they share principles aligned with sustainability,” said Prof. Unai Pascual (Spain/Switzerland), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Patricia Balvanera (Mexico), Prof. Mike Christie (UK) and Dr. Brigitte Baptiste (Colombia). “Pathways arising from diverse worldviews and knowledge systems, for instance those associated with living well and other philosophies of good living, can also lead towards sustainability.”

Decision-making Tools to Strengthen the Diversity of Values

Among the other tools offered by the Report to strengthen the consideration of greater diversity of values of nature in decision-making are: an exploration of entry points for valuation across all parts of the policy cycle; six interrelated values-centered guidelines to promote sustainability pathways; an evaluation of the potential of different environmental policy instruments to support transformative change towards more sustainable and just futures by representing diverse values, and a detailed illustration of the required capacities of decision makers to foster the consideration and embedding of the diverse values of nature into decisions.

“Biodiversity is being lost and nature’s contributions to people are being degraded faster now than at any other point in human history,” said Ana María Hernández Salgar, Chair of IPBES. “This is largely because our current approach to political and economic decisions does not sufficiently account for the diversity of nature’s values. The IPBES Values Assessment is being released at an extremely important time – just in advance of the expected agreement later this year by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on a new global biodiversity framework for the next decade. The information, analysis and tools offered by the Values Assessment make an invaluable contribution to that process, to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and to shifting all decisions towards better values-centered outcomes for people and the rest of nature.”

Read the full report summary


IPBES (2022): Summary for policymakers of the methodological assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. U. Pascual, P. Balvanera, M. Christie, B. Baptiste, D. González-Jiménez, C.B. Anderson, S. Athayde, R. Chaplin-Kramer, S. Jacobs, E. Kelemen, R. Kumar, E. Lazos, A. Martin, T.H. Mwampamba, B. Nakangu, P. O'Farrell, C.M. Raymond, S.M. Subramanian, M. Termansen, M. Van Noordwijk, A. Vatn (eds.). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. 37 pages. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6522392


Often described as the “IPCC for biodiversity”, IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising 139 member Governments. Established by Governments in 2012, it provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. For more information about IPBES and its assessments visit www.ipbes.net.

Cover image by Jenna Lee.

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