Skip to content

NEWS: Harper and the green economy, putting a price tag on nature

In May 2010, the Canwest News Service reported, “Following a fall report released by the United Nations Environment Programme that concluded natural ecosystems around the world were worth trillions of dollars in the global economy, the Harper government is following up with the development of its own framework to evaluate the economic value of nature in Canada.”

“Luis Leigh, a director in the Regulatory Analysis and Instrument Choice Division at Environment Canada…explained the framework could provide governments and businesses with balanced information in their decision-making process with the true costs of development or conservation. …A separate division of Environment Canada is also leading a study on the ‘Value of Nature to Canadians in 2010′ which would complement the work being done in developing the framework, Leigh explained.”

Euractiv noted at that time, “A United Nations initiative is making massive calculations in an attempt to put a price on nature services such as soil, forest or fresh water…” And the Guardian UK added, “The UN’s three year project to measure The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (first identified) the different habitats that host Earth’s estimated 5-30 million species and then (identified) the different ’services’ they provide: cleaner water from reedbeds and wetlands… The next problem was to work out how much they were worth…”

The Council of Canadians is tracking this agenda of the financialization or commodification of nature through the ‘green economy’ agenda being presented at the Rio+20 Earth Summit this June.

Although the green economy is understood differently in Canada, the ‘green economy’ agenda being advanced for Rio+20 is entirely about the privatization of the public good. Olivier Hoedeman of Corporate Europe Observatory writes, “The market-based approach promoted by (a UN Environment Program chief spokesperson Pavan) Sukdhev assumes that nature should be precisely measured and valued, according to the ‘services’ it provides (cleaning water, capturing carbon and so on). This way nature’s services can be costed, offset and traded on markets, via credits, similar to carbon trading. Giving nature a monetary value or putting a price tag on it, is the best way to protect it, UNEP argues.”

The original May 2010 campaign blog on Harper putting a price tag on nature can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=3185.

Rio+20 ‘green economy’ blogs can be read on our campaign web-page, http://canadians.org/rio20.