On Friday, the BES Policy Team attended a ‘Town Meeting’, organised by the NERC Valuing Nature Network, a programme supported by the Natural Capital Initiative. The meeting was a first step to bring together those who might form interdisciplinary teams which will go on to bid for funds from the programme. A series of workshops throughout June brought researchers together in disciplinary groups; this meeting was an opportunity for all participants from these meetings to come together and to discuss potential collaborations.
The aim of the Valuing Nature Network is to improve valuation methods (valuation of stocks and flows of ecosystem services), address knowledge gaps set an agenda for future research. The limited funds available for the initial round of research bids (£50,000) and the limited timescale, means that VNN is not going to be able to generate much new science. Instead it is about developing tools and a framework for future science. Winning bids are however expected to make a contribution to science by providing novel syntheses of existing knowledge.
At Friday’s meeting, the VNN team outlined those major research areas which bids should address (recognising that no one bid can answer all of these questions). These were as follows:
1. Improving valuation (all methods) to incorporate the complexity of socio-ecological systems.
Bids should address the complexity of the real-world environment:
a. Spatial variability
b. Temporal effects
c. Direct and indirect effects
d. Incorporate non-linearities (e.g. thresholds, diminishing marginal values etc.)
2. Stocks, flows and sustainability.
What are the natural science challenges of incorporating stock sustainability within decision analysis?
a. Can flow values be improved?
b. What alternative approaches to flow valuations might ensure stock sustainability?
How do variations in scale affect natural processes, marginal values etc?
a. What are the barriers to decision-making across scales? How can these be overcome?
4. From science, through values to decisions
Clarify concept of shared social values and how they differ from traditional individual economic values. How would these be measured so that they can be used in decision-making?
a. Governance: the transition from values to decisions and onwards to implementation, regulation and incentives.
The characteristics of winning bids are likely to be:
- Genuinely interdisciplinary teams
- Teams integrating decision-makers
- Appropriate and interesting research questions to address the four objectives above
- A clear agenda for future research
The ‘announcement of opportunity‘ is expected in mid July, with a deadline for proposal submissions towards the end of September. Grants will be awarded to working groups in October, with working groups then expected to deliver reports in October 2012.