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Value of Nature Webinar

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Is your nature viewing lens crooked?

Green Balance by Aveera Juss

On Friday, December 17th, approximately 30 people logged onto a homegrown sustainability webinar hosted by Talk Dharti to Me. Ajay Sailopal began the webinar by introducing the two speakers, Prof. Michael Onyebuchi Eze and Pakhi Das. Ajay started with a small introduction on the topic of nature conservation. He explains how different people can assign different values to nature because they conceptualize it differently. For some, nature may have a more symbolic and personal meaning, whereas, for others, it may simply be a source of goods and services.

Pakhi Das began her presentation with a diagram of the benefits of nature first. She explains how benefits from nature are tangible and intangible, and how they can be separated into all of these different categories, such as provisional, cultural, and regulating, and how all of these benefits are something that economists have come up with so that we can see these and then we can associate every aspect of the environment providing us with these benefits.

Pakhi continues, "Even after being a conservationist, I'm still not sure what the value of nature is because there are many reasons why one values nature and none of them give us any monetary benefits," but she knows it is crucial. Most countries in the world have also tied themselves to conserving the environment and forests and their multiple rules, regulations, and international agreements have been put in place so that whatever is left of the environment can be preserved for the future.

Pakhi says she knows it is extremely valuable. Still, from her field of study, she has concluded that nature is extremely valuable unless you put it on the scale next to development. Once you put nature next to development, the value appears to decline, so the rest of her presentation compares nature and development because that is one of her areas of expertise and something she engages with regularly.

Prof. Michael Onyebuchi Eze began by taking a philosophical approach to the subject. His presentation was titled "I am because you are" because, according to him, it highlights different perspectives on the environment. He believes that how we see the environment determines how we treat the environment, and that the relationship between a human being and the environment is primarily determined by how we value it. He further says that he is connected to global and comparative thinking about nature and bringing about different understandings and experiences.

Michael then explains our relationship with nature by quoting an African proverb, 'Umuntu Nngumuntu Ngabnatu,' which explains what constitutes a relationship with nature. He adds, “ Our relationship to nature has changed; we no longer recognize only those who look like us; we recognize plants and animals we don't know. So our relationship is contemporaneous not just because I see you because I recognize you because you think like me, eat like me, walk like me, speak like me, but also because the environment is part of nature. He suggests that we should begin to think of the environment in this kind of contemporaneous approach: if we take care of it, we are not separate from it.

Michael concludes by saying that he believes that if we begin to see what we give to nature as what nature gives back to us, then we will have a more coherent vision of the environment.

You can watch a recording of the webinar here:

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