First Earth Debate asks Can we put a price on nature?

25 January 2012

Clean air, fresh water, pollinating crops and flood protection. These are just some of the services nature provides us for free. But for how long?

Ecosystem economics - can we put a price on nature? is the first Earth Debate, looking at the issues that will be tackled at the Rio+20 (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) in Brazil, in June. It will be streamed live tonight from 7pm on the Natural History Museum website.

The Earth Debate will be chaired by Tim Radford, former Science Editor of the Guardian, and the panel includes Professor Sir Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and other experts.

They will ask whether calculating the monetary value of natural services will promote a more responsible use of the world's natural resources. 

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) project has estimated that if we didn’t have bees and other pollinating insects to pollinate our crops, the true cost for this service would be 153 billion Euros every year.

You can get the debate started by posting your questions online before the live streamed event, and also take part on Twitter using the hashtag #earthdebates.

There are 3 more debates to come, one each month, which tackle key issues that will be at the heart of the Earth Summit's green economy agenda.

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development is known as Rio+20 because it is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years on from the first Earth Summit that took place there. It is also known as Earth Summit 2012.

The Earth Debates are organised in partnership with Stakeholder Forum for a sustainable future and the British Council.

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