NAVIGATE is a NERC funded project based at Aberystwyth University and University of East-Anglia that explores how the multiple values of nature can be embedded in decision making.

Human activities are directly and indirectly degrading nature, threatening a million species with extinction worldwide. At the same time, people rely on nature or our livelihoods and well-being. Urgent action is thus needed to protect nature and use it more sustainably and fairly. A key factor driving harm to nature is that the decisions that people, businesses and governments make are often based on a limited set of nature’s values, mostly linked to economic markets. So far, biodiversity economics has mostly thought of nature’s values as ‘instrumental’, of nature as a means to human welfare. Instrumental values are predominantly considered as monetary benefits of goods and services from nature and that can, in principle, be replaced by technology without loss of value. 

 However, the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), has synthesised the best available evidence on nature and its values for policy makers. In this assessment it has identified several other ‘non-instrumental’ value concepts.These include: relational values (the value we have for our relationships with nature); broad values (our overarching principles and life goals); shared values (collective values) expressed by groups, communities and cultures); and intrinsic values (values for nature independent of benefits to people. 

NAVIGATE aims to enhance our understanding of these non-instrumental value concepts and explore how these values might be better integrated into economic thinking and policy decisions. Our research will undertake detailed reviews,drawing on a range of scientific perspectives to provide greater clarity on definitions of these value concepts, how they might be measured (using both monetary and other indicators) and how they might best be integrated into policy and business decisions. We will also ask decision makers whether they currently consider these values, and if not, how decision-making institutions could change to better reflect them. Based on the above, we will develop methods for assessing these values and feeding them into policies, e.g., through integrating deliberative democratic approaches like citizen panels into economic analysis. To test our ideas, we will apply our methods to four case studies that will value the non-instrumental values associated with forests and woodlands. Our case studies include: the UK national forest; a new woodland that has recently been planted in Wales to store carbon, reduce flooding and promote outdoor recreation; urban woodland in the City of Helsinki, Finland; and forestry supply chains linking Tanzania and the UK.