Who is Peter van Bodegom?
Prof.dr.ir. Peter van Bodegom is professor and head of the department of Environmental Biology within the Institute of Environmental Sciences of Leiden University, in The Netherlands. Van Bodegom enjoys working at the interface of disciplines; the impacts of human society on ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, and vice versa. He is an international authority in multidisciplinary modelling of environmental gains and losses.

Environmental Biology
What is the exact role and value of nature in human society? That’s the question Van Bodegom tries to answer using quantitative modelling. Environmental Biology links nature and human society. The discipline tries to understand the impact of human beings on nature, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning, and how - at the same time - they depend on nature for their own wellbeing.

Van Bodegom is straight forward: nature costing - paying for the damage done to nature - justifies negative effects. It won’t encourage people to do better. When externalizing the impacts on nature “we kind of agree that we have negative effects on nature, but we just pay for it to get away with it", says Van Bodegom.

We should develop a relationship with our environment by thinking of nature profits
Make nature profitable
Van Bodegom proposes the concept of nature profits. Positive impacts on nature should be stimulated by quantifying them.

“We should develop a relationship with our environment by thinking of nature profits,” Van Bodegom states. As an example he mentions water management. "The farming system could be such that it maintains water in the soil system for a longer period avoiding floods downstream or irrigation demands later on. This provides added value for water storage. The ones experiencing this value - water managers for instance - might be willing to pay for those additional services."

How can we achieve this? Van Bodegom: “one of the instruments is natural capital accounting, which provides the balance for natural capital." Natural capital is anything that is around in nature that can provide added value to society.” Ecosystems services can be acknowledged with money or through certification, awareness, and respect.

Van Bodegom sees many opportunities for accounting and certification schemes. To put them into practice, all parties in the food system need to be on board, including consumers. “They need to be aware of the nature costs and benefits of their behavior. In some cases, you might need to change legislation.” And that is where Marttin and Van Bodegom meet. “Indeed, it demands going back to the drawing table.”

We are looking for examples of natural capital accounting anywhere on the globe, to talk about on this platform. Please share below or email me, Bianca van der Ha, editor-in-chief of the IFAMA goes Digital platform.

European Green Deal
Van Bodegom and Veerman briefly mention the European Green Deal in the video. What is that?

The European Green Deal is a roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable. This will happen by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all.

Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. To overcome these challenges, Europe needs a new growth strategy that transforms the Union into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where
  • there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050
  • economic growth is decoupled from resource use
  • no person and no place is left behind

  • Mixed Feelings
    The Green Deal was presented in December 2019. The European States received the proposal with mixed feelings. The Dutch minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, believes the EU wants to interfere too much in policy implementation in national and local contexts. However, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron call for a rapid adoption of the European Green Deal.

    A common concern is that the Green Deal is imprecise on how the roadmap should be implemented. Thus, the compliance criteria cannot be clear. That’s where Van Bodegom comes in. He states that these should be developed clearly and consistently. The Netherlands could play a leading role here, as the country has a real competency in the development of integral modelling.