The value that we place on the natural environment is receiving evermore attention, but with so many conflicting interests involved how do we make decisions on how to manage it? This new course from FutureLearn explores how we can incorporate values and fairness into the decision-making process.

Fairness and Nature: When Worlds Collide looks at a number of basic principles and how to apply these to case studies. These principles can be used in different contexts and locations, making the course suitable for participants from a range of different backgrounds.

For example, a recent study found that access to green spaces in urban areas has a positive effect on people’s wellbeing, but there is often a question of who funds these initiatives. The course considers the different values and conflicts involved in managing natural resources. Course leader Jon Lovett explains in his introduction to the course, “Policies about managing nature should be economically and environmentally sound, but they also need to be formulated with social fairness if they are to be sustainable.”

The course also covers ecosystem services – which are particularly relevant in terms of agriculture. These services are benefits provided by local ecosystems, such as insect pollination and climate regulation, or cultural and health benefits. If you’re interested in understanding more about this topic, particularly in relation to agriculture, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food (TEEBAgFood) is an initiative that is working towards making both the positive and negative externalities of our food systems more visible, in order to raise awareness of our dependency on natural capital.

The course is completely free and takes place over two weeks. It is aimed at anyone who is concerned about the world’s environmental problems and the policies used to tackle them. It particularly suits students or professionals with an interest in natural resource management, geography, environmental science, natural sciences, ecology, politics and law.

The course starts on 19th October – sign up now to take part.

Photograph: Neil Palmer/CIAT

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