Use your power for good: plural valuation of nature – the Oaxaca statement

Decisions on the use of nature reflect the values and rights of individuals, communities and society at large. The values of nature are expressed through cultural norms, rules and legisla- tion, and they can be elicited using a wide range of tools, including those of economics. None of the approaches to elicit peoples’ values are neutral. Unequal power relations influence valu- ation and decision-making and are at the core of most environmental conflicts. As actors in sustainability thinking, environmental scientists and practitioners are becoming more aware of their own posture, normative stance, responsibility and relative power in society. Based on a transdisciplinary workshop, our perspective paper provides a normative basis for this new community of scientists and practitioners engaged in the plural valuation of nature.

During a workshop held in Oaxaca, Mexico, a shared vision, mission and strategies to foster a more plural valuation of nature were developed. The participants represent a wide range of backgrounds and are active in science, policy and practitioner networks and activities.

Their common ground is the recognition of the need to change the prevailing culture of how nature is valued and subsequently managed as an essential step towards a more just and sus- tainable world. After an open plenary session in which the goal of the workshop was deter- mined and the diverse perspectives and backgrounds of the participants were heard, breakout groups developed the components of a shared vision, mission and strategies for plural valu- ation of nature. Consequently, these components were discussed back in plenary and conso- lidated into a consensus text, which was further debated and its main building blocks agreed upon. The compilation of our shared views converged into a normative call and perspective to share with our peers. The information generated throughout the workshop was collaboratively synthesized, amended, reviewed and validated by all workshop participants/co-authors. Our message aims to contribute to advancing plural valuation approaches as a science-policy field, as well as to raise personal awareness among researchers and practitioners on implicit inequality and power issues.

Global Sustainability 

YEAR: 2020