Developing world values nature differently

Partha Dasgupta told Earth & Sky that, in the developing world, natural resources aren’t just amenities. Instead, they’re economic necessities.

Partha Dasgupta told EarthSky that, in the developing world, natural resources aren’t just amenities. Instead, they’re economic necessities.

Partha Dasgupta is Professor of Economics at Cambridge University in England.

He told us that developed countries often don’t recognize the value of natural capital – the goods and services nature provides.

Partha Dasgupta: The environment gets thought of or perceived as an amenity. The beach gets polluted, or a beautiful wetland where you can watch birds gets damaged, so the birds don’t come any more, or come less.

And in that case, Dasgupta said, we in the U.S. might decide to take our vacations elsewhere. But in the developing world, he said, it’s different.

Partha Dasgupta: These resources are the mainstay of their household income. And if things go wrong there, it’s their livelihood. They’re not just amenities – they’re economic necessities.

Environmental resources such as wetlands, beaches and forests are now known to provide essential ecosystem services – clean air and water, healthy fisheries, protection from coastal erosion, and so on. Sixty percent of all of Earth’s ecosystem services are degraded, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment released earlier this year.

Dasgupta wants us to understand that nature’s services are key to the health and wealth of all nations.

Our thanks to:
Partha Dasgupta
Cambridge University

Jorge Salazar