Amazingly, there are people who think that environmental protection will cause economic calamity (bankers seem to be good at causing economic collapse all on their own). This old way of thinking still impacts policy and other decisions made around the world. In order to put this archaic notion away, the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s latest initiative is a year of blogging about how economic and environmental success go hand in hand.
Their first post on the matter is about how the perception of the environment as an asset to economic prosperity.
People often talk about “economic value,” “ecological value,” and “social value” as if they were separate things. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the discussion above makes clear, the “value” or “benefit” we are talking about here is the contribution to sustainable human well-being. None of these elements (ecological, social/cultural, economic) are mutually exclusive; that is, none can make a contribution to that goal without interacting with the others.
What we can ask is: what is the relative contribution of, for example, natural capital to sustainable human well-being, in combination with other forms of capital (built, human, social), in a particular context?
We have to look at these things in context and as part of an integrated, whole system of humans embedded in cultures, which are, in turn, embedded in the rest of nature.