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Global justice and the opportunity costs of conservation

Global justice and the opportunity costs of conservation
Global justice and the opportunity costs of conservation
Opportunity costs can represent a significant portion of the costs associated with conservation projects (Green et al 2018), frequently outstripping other kinds of cost (Balmford and Whitten 2003). They are typically understood to refer to the benefits someone could or would have obtained if conservation projects had not required them to give up on current activities such as farming or hunting in a particular place (Naidoo and Adamowicz 2006, Adams, Pressey and Naidoo 2010). As Green et al (2018: 2) put it, to identify opportunity costs we simply need to measure ‘the net benefits obtained if the land were available instead for development to some other productive use’ (Green et al 2018: 2). I show that this familiar way of identifying opportunity costs is flawed, and that when used to calculate what people affected by conservation projects are owed, it generates considerable injustice. Integrating ideas from the political theory of global justice, I show that the analysis of opportunity costs provides a good example of the importance of considering conservation and issues of global justice alongside one another, rather than thinking about them in isolation. I distinguish four ways of identifying opportunity costs, and make the case for an egalitarian baseline. Such a baseline would suggest that, in practice, many of the world's poor are being unjustly treated, or even exploited, as a result of conservation activities.
0888-8892
Armstrong, Christopher
2fbfa0a3-9183-4562-9370-0f6441df90d2
Armstrong, Christopher
2fbfa0a3-9183-4562-9370-0f6441df90d2

Armstrong, Christopher (2022) Global justice and the opportunity costs of conservation. Conservation Biology. (doi:10.1111/cobi.14018).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Opportunity costs can represent a significant portion of the costs associated with conservation projects (Green et al 2018), frequently outstripping other kinds of cost (Balmford and Whitten 2003). They are typically understood to refer to the benefits someone could or would have obtained if conservation projects had not required them to give up on current activities such as farming or hunting in a particular place (Naidoo and Adamowicz 2006, Adams, Pressey and Naidoo 2010). As Green et al (2018: 2) put it, to identify opportunity costs we simply need to measure ‘the net benefits obtained if the land were available instead for development to some other productive use’ (Green et al 2018: 2). I show that this familiar way of identifying opportunity costs is flawed, and that when used to calculate what people affected by conservation projects are owed, it generates considerable injustice. Integrating ideas from the political theory of global justice, I show that the analysis of opportunity costs provides a good example of the importance of considering conservation and issues of global justice alongside one another, rather than thinking about them in isolation. I distinguish four ways of identifying opportunity costs, and make the case for an egalitarian baseline. Such a baseline would suggest that, in practice, many of the world's poor are being unjustly treated, or even exploited, as a result of conservation activities.

Text
Conservation Biology - 2022 - Armstrong - Global Justice and the Opportunity Costs of Conservation
Restricted to Repository staff only until 16 September 2023.
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 16 September 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 3 October 2022
Published date: 3 October 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 471392
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/471392
ISSN: 0888-8892
PURE UUID: 6834fd01-6a01-43b4-94d1-eef100ecd63a
ORCID for Christopher Armstrong: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7462-5316

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Nov 2022 17:47
Last modified: 29 Nov 2022 02:39

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