A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Future Cities’, published in The Times, 26 March, 2013.
According to received wisdom, it is not possible to put a price on Nature, however, to much debate, that is exactly what has been happening increasingly of late, as policymakers and markets strive to develop robust metrics to determine the value of living-planet assets and liabilities.
The UN has estimated world ecosystems deliver essential services worth in excess of $70tn a year. In the UK alone, the National Ecosystem Assessment generated figures claiming responsible stewardship of green spaces could be worth at least £30bn a year to the economy, in health and welfare benefits. With a view of green space worth up to £300 per person, provision of good access to same for every household in England could knock £2.1bn off the country’s annual healthcare bill.