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People in Europe acknowledge that nature is important to them and to society at large. Economists have shown that indeed, biodiversity has total economic values running into the trillions of euros worldwide and hundreds of millions even for minor ecosystem services on local scales. In spite of these immense values, politicians and the general public in Europe do not appear to really act for nature. In the ballot box, people think about their job security, their mortgage or foreign immigrants not about the loss of nature. Politicians feel tempted to focus on these same narrow issues. As a result, European biodiversity continues to decline.
Can economic methods to assess the value of biodiversity be improved such that they reach out to what really motivates action? Can alternative approaches be developed that lie closer to what connects people to nature and can appeal to their actions in stead of only to their feelings?
The BIOMOT project, funded by the FP7 programme of the European Union, will address these challenges. Involving eight research institutes in seven European countries and uniting a unique group of economists, governance experts, psychologists and philosophers, BIOMOT will undertake empirical research in the seven European countries, focusing on (a) the motivational capacity of economic valuation methods, (b) the types of motivation for nature that underlie successful policy actions for biodiversity at various scales and (c) the motivations that drive citizens, business and public leaders to take action for nature. On that basis, BIOMOT will develop a general theory of motivation for biodiversity and think through its implications for biodiversity policies, for business and civil society actors and for public communication.