• Program 2007-08

Placing a Value on "Ecosystem Services"


May 20, 2008


6-8 pm


NYU Center for Global Affairs, Woolworth Building 15 Barclay Street (Enter on Barclay Street), 4th Floor - Present ID at Ground Floor Reception

When we breathe, we don't pay for clean air - though if it becomes polluted, we might pay to filter it. And when we grow crops, we might pay for labor and tools, but we don't pay for the soil fertility that allows crops to grow - until we deplete its nutrients, and then we buy chemical fertilizers. "Ecosystem services" comprise these and other goods or services that the planet provides, such as rain, pollination, decomposition, and recreation. While we don't pay for these directly, estimates indicate they are worth around $33 trillion - far more than the economic activities we do count, which total $18 trillion annually. If we were to place explicit value on ecosystem services, would we be less likely to squander them? The success of the US Acid Rain program implies a resounding "yes" - by creating a market for sulfur dioxide emissions, pollution was dramatically reduced at a surprisingly low cost. Inspired by this success, smaller "proto-markets" are being introduced throughout the world to protect wetlands, prevent water pollution, and to save endangered species. This panel will look at the valuation of the environment through concepts like ecosystem services, green accounting practices, and market-based environmental protection. Panelists will consider how these new concepts are affecting corporations, and how corporate managers can integrate them successfully into existing management practices.


Steve Godeke, Godeke Consulting


Dominic Careri Kulik, founding Principal of Dakai Enterprises. 
Jason Scott, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of EKO Asset Management Partners Ana Paula Tavares. Deputy Director and Director of Development Rainforest Alliance.