Project proposal [the complete project proposal, May 11th 2011; 51 pages PDF file ~ 6 MB]
Many economists and ecologists claim that biodiversity has total economic values running into the trillions of euros worldwide and hundreds of millions even for 'minor' ecosystem services on local scales. The problem addressed by the BIOMOT project is that, in spite of these immense values, biodiversity in Europe is still declining. Politicians and the public in general in Europe do not appear to respond swiftly and effectively to prevent further biodiversity degradation. Why is that? Why are total economic values not compelling? What could really work to motivate publics and politics into action for biodiversity?
Scientific research can help address this challenge by means of a comprehensive rethinking of what value and motivation actually are for people. On this insight then, practical guidelines for methods and languages with greater motivational capacity can be built.
The BIOMOT, funded by the EU's programme FP7, takes this relatively 'deep' approach of investigation. This implies that we can (and need) to exploit the full richness of scientific disciplines that relate to BIOMOT's main question. Primarily, these disciplines are:
- Economics, both in its neo-classic and alternative versions
- Governance science, with al its project-level insights in "what works" and why
- Psychology, with its strong quantitative and qualitative methods and theory.
BIOMOT is organized along these disciplinary lines, but then of course faces the challenge of how to remain truly comprehensive and interdisciplinary. At this point, BIOMOT engages the power of philosophy to act in its classic role of the 'mother discipline'. The philosophers in BIOMOT have both a critical and a synthetic role. Critically, they analyse the underlying assumptions of the other disciplines and propose improvements. Synthetically, they help build the common framework and the common outputs of the project.
In the figure below, we see the three disciplinary lines at work, interwoven by the largely philosophical task called Integration and theory of motivation.
The figure also shows the four objectives. In summary, the four objectives of the BIOMOT project are:
- Objective 1: To establish how economic methods to express the value of biodiversity can be adapted in such a way that they result in stronger motivations to act for biodiversity at the local to global scales.
- Objective 2: To establish what (economic and alternative) ways to express the value of biodiversity are at work in cases of successful governance and policy action for biodiversity at the local to global scales.
- Objective 3: To establish what (economic and alternative) ways to express the value of biodiversity are at work in cases of successful action for biodiversity carried out by political, businesses, NGO and other leaders at various scales.
- Objective 4: To establish, based on these results and philosophical enquiry, a general "theory of motivation to act for biodiversity" and show the practical applications of this theory to enhance biodiversity action in the daily lives and practices of people and institutions at levels ranging from the local to the global.