We have long known that nature and biodiversity hold many values for society. However, this understanding does not yet reverse the trend of constant decline in biodiversity seen today. To remedy this, the EU funded a project to evaluate what in fact moves actors in government, civil society and business into committed action for nature. This project BIOMOT (Motivational strength of ecosystem services and alternative ways to express the value of biodiversity) aimed to design a theory of committed action for nature and, based thereon, help society to act more effectively to close the ‘implementation gap’ of biodiversity policies at all levels of scale. Project members re-evaluated the current policy focus on the economic values of biodiversity, and found many weaknesses. Even more importantly, economic values were found to carry hardly any weight in motivating people to really act for the preservation of nature and biodiversity. Moral (intrinsic) values of nature weight into a stronger extent, but also not very convincingly so. Then, what is it that energizes actors in governments and society to act for nature? The BIOMOT project studied and interviewed more than 30 energetic biodiversity projects and more than 100 committed individuals working for biodiversity across Europe. The project found that much more than economic and moral values, learning about nature and feeling connected to nature are main motivations for committed action. Most saliently, committed action for nature is fostered by that people feel connected with nature as part of a meaningful life. In classic philosophy, this is called ‘eudemonic value’. Government action for biodiversity needs to build on a pillar of rationality. But in order to really get moving, it also needs to build on a pillar of energy, fostering committed action of actors in government, business and civil society. What this is exactly, and how to act on this insight, has been summarized by the BIOMOT project in two wide-audience booklets. They are called ‘A theory of committed action for nature’ and ‘Fostering committed action for nature’ respectively, and can be found on the project website.
Biodiversity, national governance, committed action, BIOMOT, values of nature, economic valuation