Using Emergy to Value Ecosystem Goods and Services

By Vivek Voora, Charles Thrift, Charles Thrift on June 7, 2010
The emergy (not to be confused with energy) approach is an attempt to comprehensively measure and value the energy that directly and indirectly makes up a product or a service. Applying the emergy approach to value ecosystem goods and services may provide a means to better understand their importance for our well-being.

All goods and services from the environment, society and the economy can be expressed in emergy units; they can be directly compared to assess the condition and sustainability of a system. The emergy approach provides policy-makers and decision-makers with a donor-based valuation system to examine economic and environmental information so that human and natural environments can be better managed.

We examined the advantages and disadvantages of the emergy approach for valuing ecosystem goods and services and found that additional research is required to determine if it should be applied more widely as a valuation technique.

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IISD, 2010