Comprehensive valorization of natural capital in Germany: approaches and methods for dealing with scarce information and uncertainties
Intact natural capital provides long-term services that are valuable to people. Its social values are only incompletely known and subject to great uncertainty. ValuGaps develops methods to close information gaps, deal with uncertainties and bring together existing knowledge in such a way that decision-makers can apply it in practice.
Biodiversity and natural capital contribute significantly to human well-being. However, social decisions have so far only taken these values into account to a limited extent. One important reason for this is major information gaps and uncertainties. The few existing primary valuation studies have not been systematically selected, consider only some of the values and only implicitly take into account ecological-economic dynamics and uncertainties. ValuGaps responds to the need for reliable, comprehensive, and scalable values for natural capital and biodiversity articulated by authorities in Germany, in particular the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).
ValuGaps looks at multidimensional economic, relational, and health values and asks the following research questions:
- Where are the biggest information gaps and uncertainties for societal decision-makers and stakeholders related to the values of biodiversity and natural capital?
- How can different values be bridged, scaled, and transferred (i) in space and time, (ii) across user groups and (iii) across ecosystem types in a practicable, scientifically and normatively robust way? Using integrated ecological-economic models, behavioral experiments, and surveys, we investigate in particular:
- What are the key parameters for valorizing natural capital in a scalable and transferable way, and how can we quantify or constrain the range of values of these parameters?
- How do uncertainties in value scaling and transfer propagate?
- How can decision-makers use valuation in a meaningful way, and how should uncertainties be taken into account?
In addressing these questions, ValuGaps will provide the interdisciplinary scientific basis to comprehensively consider natural capital values in policy making, accounting, and planning.