[Article] Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment

Chan, KMA, P Balvanera, K Benessaiah, M Chapman, S Díaz, E Gómez-Baggethun, R Gould, N Hannahs, K Jax, S Klain, GW Luck, B Martín-López, B Muraca, B Norton, K Ott, U Pascual, T Satterfield, M Tadaki, J Taggart and N Turner. 2016. PNAS 113(6): 1462–1465

A cornerstone of environmental policy is the debate over protecting nature for humans’ sake (instrumental values) or for nature’s (intrinsic values). We propose that focusing only on instrumental or intrinsic values may fail to resonate with views on personal and collective well-being, or “what is right,” with regard to nature and the environment. Without complementary attention to other ways that value is expressed and realized by people, such a focus may inadvertently promote worldviews at odds with fair and desirable futures. It is time to engage seriously with a third class of values, one with diverse roots and current expressions: relational values. By doing so, we reframe the discussion about environmental protection, and open the door to new, potentially more productive policy approaches.


We endorsed this article because it makes a contribution to challenges 2 and 3 of the ecoSERVICES science strategy. The article was conceived for explaining relational values in response to discussions that took place in the arena of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

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