This report aims to inform Ontarians about key economic issues involving ecosystem services and biodiversity in Ontario. These are considered together because their economic issues are similar. This follows the practice of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), of which Canada is a member.
This report updates an earlier 2012 report with the same title (Miller & Lloyd-Smith, 2012). The present report includes new information and sources, removes some outdated material, and adjusts the amount and ordering of some content.
Many professions and sectors of the marketplace are taking an interest in this subject. Businesses and investors are improving the ways that they measure and manage their interactions with ecosystems, with the aid of accounting professionals. Professional planners, engineers, and infrastructure specialists are improving their conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, and the use of green infrastructure. Public health professionals are discovering how human health is dependent upon the health of biodiverse ecosystems. Ecological economists and other economists are working to recalibrate economic signals and policies for the sustenance of life on Earth.
Market prices fail to reflect the full economic value of nature. A solution is for economists to generate non-market values, using specific valuation techniques that quantify the importance of changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services. The resulting information helps to make land-use decisions more effective, balance sheets more complete, and economic accounts more comprehensive. All of this enhances efficiency and sustainability, especially when used with economic instruments. Economic instruments aim to more closely align economic self-interest with shared interests in the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Several instruments are available, including ones that affect information, prices, quantities, and legal liabilities, and behaviour.
Fortunately non-market values and economic instruments are increasingly prevalent in Ontario. This is helping several policies and practices that mandate their consideration.