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Ecosystem services as technology of globalization: On articulating values in urban nature
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
2013 (English)In: Ecological Economics, ISSN 0921-8009, E-ISSN 1873-6106, Vol. 86, 274-284 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper demonstrates how ecosystem services can be viewed and studied as a social practice of value articulation. With this follows that when ecosystem services appear as objects of calculated value in decision-making they are already tainted by the social and cannot be viewed as merely reflecting an objective biophysical reality. Using urban case studies of place-based struggles in Stockholm and Cape Town, we demonstrate how values are relationally constructed through social practice. The same analysis is applied on ecosystem services. Of special interest is the TEEB Manual that uses a consultancy report on the economic evaluation of Cape Town's 'natural assets' to describe a step-by-step method to catalog, quantify and price certain aspects of urban nature. The Manual strives to turn the ecosystem services approach into a transportable method, capable of objectively measuring the values of urban nature everywhere, in all cities in the world. With its gesture of being universal and objective, the article suggests that the ecosystem services approach is a technology of globalization that de-historicizes and de-ecologizes debates on urbanized ecologies, effectively silencing other and often marginalized ways of knowing and valuing. The paper inscribes ecosystem services as social practice, as part of historical process, and as inherently political. A call is made for critical ethnographies of how ecosystem services and urban sustainability indicators are put into use to change local decision-making while manufacturing global expertise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013. Vol. 86, 274-284 p.
Keyword [en]
Urban nature protection, Postpolitical, New Public Management (NPM), Actor-Network Theory (ANT), The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability
National Category
Environmental Sciences Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90203DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.09.012ISI: 000317803500033OAI: diva2:623648
Formas, 250-2010-1372


Available from: 2013-05-28 Created: 2013-05-28 Last updated: 2014-10-09Bibliographically approved

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Ernstson, Henrik
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