LUKE Natural Resources Institute, Finland
The focus of my research is about including natural resources in the economic domain. This can be done through various schools of thoughts, depending on assumptions and methodologies adopted. Ranging from an economical, ecological or institutional approach, my research is aimed at shaping a framework to assess environmental management. From this perspective, it is of crucial importance to understand which could be the array of instruments needed to evaluate natural resources and ecosystem services, particularly when dealing with a society benefiting from these services. Furthermore, I am interested also in investigating innovative economic and financial mechanisms that could create a virtuous circle to preserve nature and the communities relying on its ecosystem services.
Before joining LUKE for the RECOMS project in Green Economies and Ecosystem Services, I worked in the private market for two years, mostly in the financial sector, both at national and European level. During this period I developed a deeper understanding of financial mechanisms. Although I have done my BSc studies in political science at the University of Bologna – with a focus on Statistics in International Development – I then shifted my focus on economics. I graduated in Environmental Economics at the University of Siena, with a thesis on the Conservation Finance. During my MSc I participated in the establishment of a student association called “Rethinking Economics”. The association forms part of an international network whose ultimate objective is precisely to overcome the narrow neoclassical approach on behalf of a multidisciplinary and transversal study of economics. In the course of my studies I got three Erasmus scholarships: I studied at the University of Salford and at the University of Lille, and worked in Brussels. Besides these experiences, I also spent a year at the Political Sciences Faculty at the University of Milan.
While environmental damage caused by human activities is escalating, a new environmental awareness is rising and alternative solutions are constantly proposed. However, they often rely on public expenditures and lack the capacity to structurally involve other actors. Natural areas managed by communities and private actors play a crucial role in preserving the social and the ecological values of ecosystems. In order to overcome the productivist paradigm that is putting so much pressure on the environment, there is a need to identify new viable and long-lasting sources of maintenance and funding. Actors that are directly managing natural resources are mostly located in marginal areas, cornered by urbanization and an increasing lack of services. These lands host nonetheless the overwhelming majority of our natural infrastructures and resources. In most cases, natives have co-evolved with their environments for centuries, but their work practices are losing ground because of a highly interconnected global economy. This research is aimed at investigating viable and concrete solutions for communities and private owners living in remote areas, in order to manage natural resources in a long-lasting and fair manner.
The research is structured in consequential sections that guide the reader throughout the text. The first step aims at illustrating the state of the art in the field, by classifying the potential environmental sources of funding involving community governance. Secondly, I investigate the limits and the prospective improvements of these economic mechanisms, with a specific focus on compensation schemes. The third section addresses a relevant financial problem: the discounting of future cash flows in environmental investments. Lastly, I provide a solution to link a steady flow of capital for natural resources with governance practices held by communities, particularly in the case of donations. Two specific features emerge: the long-term funding for natural resources and the community-led governance. They are the common thread underlying the whole research study.