Economist Pavan Sukhdev is the independent study leader of a European Union research project, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) hosted by the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

Sukhdev has argued that current economic models do not sufficiently address the true value of nature and natural resources outside of commerce. He is a proponent of the concept of ‘natural capital’, in which a value is placed on food, clean water, clean air, forests, etc, but without commodifying nature. Poor rural populations who live outside of consumption-based economies value nature because they depend on it to survive rather than because they can exploit it for maximum monetary returns. They are therefore more likely to preserve and take care of natural resources. Government economic policies should learn from this approach.

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