The missing pillar: Eudemonic values in the justification of nature conservation

Riyan van den Born, Bas Arts, Jeroen Admiraal, Paul Knights, Almut Beringer, Erica Molinario, Katarina Polajnar Horvat, Carmen Porras-Gomez, Ales Smrekar, Nathalie Soethe, Jose Luis Vivero Pol, Wessel Ganzevoort, Marino Bonaiuto, Luuk Knippenberg, Wouter de Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The public justification for nature conservation currently rests on two pillars: hedonic (instrumental) values, and moral values. Yet these representations appear to do little motivational work in practice; biodiversity continues to decline, and biodiversity policies face a wide implementation gap. In seven EU
countries, we studied why people act for nature beyond professional obligations. We explore the motivations of 105 committed actors for nature in detail using life-history interviews, and trace these back to their childhood. Results show that the key concept for understanding committed action for nature is meaningfulness. People act for nature because nature is meaningful to them, connected to a life that makes sense and a difference in the world. These eudemonic values (expressing the meaningful life) constitute a crucial third pillar in the justification of nature conservation. Important policy implications are explored, e.g. with respect to public discourse and the encounter with nature in
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Early online date11 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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