At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics,” stated Michelle Molnar, environmental economist, speaking for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI)

Note to Reader:

In March 2017, the 22 environmental and ratepayer groups comprising the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership hosted a symposium to explore ‘design with nature’ solutions.The symposium spotlight was on the potentially powerful and cost-effective role that ecosystem services can play in an infrastructure strategy.


Valuing Ecological Assets

The 2017 Comox Valley Symposium introduced participants to a whole-system, water balance approach for restoration of watershed health. Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management is based on this premise: natural watershed systems are infrastructure assets – we must manage and protect them as such.

The trio of Kim Stephens, Michelle Molnar and Jim Dumont tag-teamed in an orientation session that provided context for three concurrent workshops on the Comox Valley upper, mid and lower watersheds. The co-presentation was structured as a conversation, and in two parts.

In the first part, the three speakers presented core concepts. In the second part, Kim Stephens facilitated a town-hall sharing and learning session.


To Learn More:

Download Valuing Ecological Assets to view the complete storyline for the tag-team presentation by Kim Stephens, Michelle Molnar and Jim Dumont.

Watch the YouTube video (26 minutes) to hear what the three said in each of their segments. Visit

Download the Agenda and Presenters List for the 2017 Eco-Asset Symposium.

Visit the Symposium homepage on the Vancouver Island Water community-of-interest.

Michele Molnar_Mar-2017_Comox Valley video

Municipal Natural Assets Initiative

“The quote by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz provides context for an introduction to the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative. As an economist, the mandate of economics is how to allocate scarce resources to their best and highest use,” stated Michelle Molnar, an environmental economist with the David Suzuki Foundation.”

“Economics does not generally include nature or natural services in the discipline. The latest version of the discipline was developed in the 1930s. At that time, ecology was not a very developed discipline. The population was low, and most importantly, nature seemed limitless. So nature did not seem like a scarce resource that needed to be factored into the discipline of economics.”

Nature – A Scarce Resource

“Today we recognize that nature has grown scarce, that natural resources are hitting limits, and the time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics,” continued Michelle Molnar.

“There has been a lot of work done over the last couple of decade to start to incorporate nature and nature’s services in economics. And the work that we are doing in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative is helping to move this along.

“We are working to test how nature can substitute, how it can safeguard, and how it can complement existing engineered infrastructure systems. We want to see if we can do that more efficiently and more cost-effectively than engineered systems.”

To Learn More:

Listen to the YouTube video to hear Michelle Molnar speak to the three slides below (8 minutes). Visit


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