Short-term profits and economic growth are the predominant focus worldwide, while the multiple values of nature are rarely taken into account in political decisions.

The study is resolutely interdisciplinary and is based on an in-depth review conducted over three years by 82 scientists from all regions of the world. It draws on more than 13,000 references, including scientific publications and sources of information from indigenous and local knowledge. It also follows on from the IPBES Global Assessment Report 2019, which identifies the role of economic growth as one of the main drivers of nature destruction, responsible for the threat of extinction to one million plant and animal species.

The scientists identified some 50 methods and approaches to make the various values of nature visible. Their analysis clearly shows that economic and political decisions have prioritised certain values of nature, especially market-based instrumental values, such as those associated with intensively produced food. "Although often privileged in policy making, market values do not adequately reflect how changes in nature affect people's quality of life. In addition, policy-making overlooks the many non-market values associated with nature's contributions to people, such as climate regulation and cultural identity," the report says.

Dendoncker Nicolas

"Thus, a development project may generate economic benefits and jobs for which the instrumental values of nature can be valued, but it may also result in the loss of species, associated with the intrinsic values of nature, and the destruction of heritage sites important for cultural identity, thus affecting the relational values of nature. These intrinsic and relational values are largely excluded from decision-making," says Nicolas Dendoncker, professor at the Department of Geography, member of the ILEE Institute at UNamur and one of the two Belgian scientists involved in the preparation of the IPBES reports.

"Orienting decision-making towards the multiple values of nature is a very important part of the profound system transformation that is needed to tackle the current global biodiversity crisis," he concludes.

The report outlines four value-based 'levers' that can help create the conditions for the transformative change needed for a more sustainable and just future: Recognising nature's diverse values Integrating diverse values into decision-making Reforming policies and stimulating institutional change Changing norms and targets at the societal level to support sustainability-aligned values in all sectors.

This new report has just been validated by the 139 sponsoring governments. It will be central to the discussions at Cop 15 Biodiversity in Montreal in December 2022.

"Participating in the development of this report has been a very rewarding experience. During these three years of work, we had the chance to be confronted with a very strong interdisciplinarity coupled with a great interculturality within the team of scientists", Nicolas Dendoncker is pleased to say. In addition to the production of this report, this intense work will also lead to the publication, in the coming months, of a series of scientific articles related to the theme of biodiversity and its protection.

Often described as the "IPCC of biodiversity", IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising 139 member states. Established by governments in 2012, it provides decision-makers with objective scientific assessments of the state of knowledge about the world's biodiversity, ecosystems, and the contributions they make to people, as well as tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets.