The 5th annual José de Acosta Lecture on the Environment was delivered by Gretchen Daily on March 8, 2012. Gretchen Daily is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and serves on the boards of the Stockholm Resilience Center and The Nature Conservancy. She has published ~200 scientific and popular articles and two recent books. An ecologist by training, Daily’s work spans scientific research, teaching, public education, and working with leaders to advance practical approaches to environmental challenges. Daily’s scientific research is on countryside biogeography and the future dynamics of biodiversity change; on the scope for harmonizing biodiversity conservation and agriculture; on quantifying the production and value of ecosystem services across landscapes; and on new policy and finance mechanisms for integrating conservation and human development in major decisions.
Harmonizing People and Nature: A New Business Model
Even in the face of intensifying pressures and risks on the global environmental front, there is a growing feeling of Renaissance in the conservation community. This flows from the promise in reaching, together with a much more diverse and powerful set of leaders than in the past, for new approaches that align economic forces with nature conservation, and that explicitly link human and environmental well-being. Around the world, leaders are increasingly recognizing ecosystems as natural capital assets that supply life-support services of tremendous value.
The challenge is to turn this recognition into incentives and institutions that will guide wise investments in natural capital, on a large scale. Gretchen Daily will discuss the advances being made on two key fronts. The first is the development of new science and tools for valuing Nature, such as InVEST, a software system developed by the Natural Capital Project for Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs. The second advance is in new policies and finance mechanisms being implemented worldwide, with examples from China, Latin America, and the United States.
The annual José de Acosta lecture series was initiated through the generous donation of USF Alumna and Board of Trustees member Michelle Skaff and her husband Dan. José de Acosta was a sixteenth-century Jesuit scientist who, nearly 300 years before Charles Darwin’s work on natural selection, studied natural history issues in South America. He based his work on meticulous observation and keen insight and wrote extensively on wildlife, atmospheric science, oceanography, and anthropology.
Previous José de Acosta lecturers include:
February, 2011, Dr. Denis Hayes, Bullitt Foundation, Seattle
February 2010, Dr. Daniel Kammen, University of California, Berkeley
February 2009, Dr. Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute
September 2007, Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University