New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Albert Breton, Giorgio Brosio, Silvana Dalmazzone and Giovanna Garrone
Albert Breton, Giorgio Brosio, Silvana Dalmazzone and Giovanna Garrone With the pressures of population, economic growth, and the movement of people and commodities reaching a scale which threatens the regenerative and assimilative capacities of the biosphere, environmental conservation has come to be recognized as a pre-eminent global challenge. Concerns for the environment, at the level of research and of policy-making, have been signiﬁcant, but, it seemed to us, have been mainly cast in a framework that conceives of environmental problems as problems of degradation through pollution and over-exploitation. Such an approach reﬂects a view of an environment made of unconnected or disjointed components – urban spaces, alpine ecosystems, blue whales, or the Amazonian forest as isolated fragments. This conventional view identiﬁes as ‘environment’ what are in eﬀect only a few of its attributes, typically the ones perceived as most directly related to the immediate well-being of western, urbanized populations – air and water quality in cities, the availability of parks and other recreational sites, the conservation of a few charismatic or symbolic species. These attributes and others like them are important, but are essentially derivative of more general properties of the natural ecosystems on which economies and societies rely. Indeed, we now know that the biosphere consists of highly interrelated and complex components, where even elements and species performing similar ecological functions are generally important in maintaining the capacity of the overall system to operate, to absorb shocks and stress, and to support life. The complexity of ecological...