EcoCommerce creates a market signal for the environment to create a new economics for a new millennium. EcoCommerce adds an ecological dimension to the economy and is a new discipline for one of the planet’s biggest issues: how can we value the economic and life-giving services that our planet has provided free for millenniums.
Jerry Hatfield, Director for the National Laboratory for Soils and the Environment states in the book’s forward, Ecocommerce 101 provides a [valuation] framework for not only how we value these ecosystem services but the process through which we quantify this value. EcoCommerce is more significant than a compilation or organization of ecoservice markets as it provides the framework to build an ecological intelligence system that allows the public arena of commerce to define sustainability. This is a unique feature because what has been lacking in the discussions of ecosystems or their monetary value has been a framework from which the value could be evaluated.
The idea that ecological goods and services must be valued and land managers must be compensated for this value originated with Aldo Leopold, one of the great conservationists of the 20th century. He wrote in his 1934 essay, “Conservation Economics” that successful conservation will likely entail rewarding the landowners who conserve the public interest.
In EcoCommerce 101, Gieseke builds the framework of this emerging economy by using Adam Smith’s concepts of “coins” and “invisible hand,” developed in the 18th Century classic The Wealth of Nations.
These new market signals will first emerge from within the economics of agro-ecosystems – the ecosystem that our world depends on for 90% of its food. Even though the agro-economic system has a seemingly complex web of market and government policy signals, it is an ideal framework to initiate EcoCommerce.
With an EcoCommerce foundation, the same economic and ecological attributes that resulted in the “tragedy of the commons” will provide those resource managers with new “opportunities of the commons” by converting environmental liabilities into ecological assets.
Perhaps the most critical attribute of EcoCommerce is that it will allow consumers, stakeholders and governments to participate in the public arena of EcoCommerce so they can define and redefine ‘sustainability’ as we move forward on the continuum of commerce.
To sum up, Hatfield describes the book’s value in this manner,
“If we are to continue to serve the world by which we are entrusted to be good stewards, then we will have to understand all of the dimensions of sustainable systems which can only come through understanding the economic value. Those who understand these dynamics will emerge as the leaders in sustainable ecosystems. The challenge will be there, and we need to be ready to evaluate these programs and be able to offer our insights into these dynamics. The question that you can answer from this book is: How will EcoCommerce be developed and how will it function?”