Ecosystem services and the idea of shared values

Katherine Irvine, Liz O'Brien, Neil Ravenscroft, Nigel Cooper, Mark Everard, Ioan Fazey, Mark Reed, Jasper Kenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ecosystem services conceptualise the diverse values that ecosystems provide to humanity. This was recognised in the United Kingdom's National Ecosystem Assessment, which noted that appreciation of the full value of ecosystem services requires recognition of values that are shared. By operationalising the shared values concept, it is argued that the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being can be represented more holistically. This paper considers current understanding of shared values and develops a new metanarrative of shared values beyond the aggregated utilities of individuals. This metanarrative seeks to conceptualise how values can be held both individually and communally, and what this means for identifying their scale and means of enumeration. The paper poses a new reading of the individual values with the formation and expression of shared social values. The implication is that shared values need to be conceived as normative constructs that are derived through social processes of value formation and expression. Shared values thus do not necessarily exist a priori; they can be deliberated through formal and informal processes through which individuals can separate their own preferences from a broader metanarrative about what values ought to be shared.idea of shared values that reconciles the elicitation of preformed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystem Services
Issue numberB
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Open Access funded by Natural Environment Research Council Under a Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0


  • Shared values
  • Ecosystem service valuation
  • Value formation
  • Deliberation
  • Public forests
  • Ecological economics


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