Saving nature for its own sake has real merit, and remains a clear and compelling case for supporting biodiversity conservation. Often this is why biodiversity has attracted so many advocates and so much attention around the world. Newspapers routinely report on the discovery of new species and the demise of others. Nature as theater, both gripping and grizzly, is wildly popular when captured on film. This is why institutions dedicated to nature will always have an important voice.
But I am a World Banker; my job is to help governments to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. For us - and many other development institutions - to invest in nature requires linking the impact of that investment to our overarching goal. I have always known that investing in nature is important for poverty alleviation at the rural frontier; now I have the economic language to provide a compelling case to my colleagues, clients and counterparts for whom economic rates of return matter. That's important to ensure that conservation can be both a moral cause that we can espouse as a stated preference, as well as a functional cause linked to our ability to spur strong economies and healthy communities.
What happens when the two causes collide? That's for the cohabitants with biodiversity - the government and its people - to decide. In that decision, economics is but one item traded in the marketplace of ideas and values. And more important often are the sellers - who now, as I wrote, look more and more like the people who will live with the consequences of that decision - than the language in which they sell.