Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"Valuing Nature: Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Decision-Making"

Stephen Polasky
Fesler-Lampert Chair in Ecological/Environmental Economics
Department of Applied Economics
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
University of Minnesota

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

Steve Polasky is a pioneer in successfully linking economics and ecology to practical decision-making that improves environmental outcomes. His career and current work with the Natural Capital Project embody the objectives of the Bren School. — Laura Dee, host

The two great challenges of the 21st century are to achieve economic development so that all people can have a decent standard of living, and to conserve and enhance the natural capital necessary for long-term sustainability. In order to simultaneously meet both challenges we need to effectively integrate economics and ecology. Nature currently provides a wide range of valuable goods and services (ecosystem services). However, current economic systems do not account for these values nor provide incentives for conserving the natural capital necessary for the continued provision of ecosystem services. Correctly accounting for nature requires a base of scientific knowledge to understand the links between: a) human actions and impacts on ecosystem functions, b) ecosystem functions and the provision of ecosystem services, and c) the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being. Correctly accounting for nature also requires incorporating this knowledge into economic incentives affecting the everyday decisions of individuals, businesses and government agencies. This talk will provide examples of integrated analysis on land use choices in Minnesota, Oregon, and China to effectively account for nature.

Professor Stephen Polasky's research focuses on issues at the intersection of ecology and economics and includes work on the impacts of land use and land management on the provision and value of ecosystem services and natural capital, biodiversity conservation, sustainability, environmental regulation, and common property resources. He was elected into the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.  He was elected as a Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in 2011, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. 

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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