Dr. Michael Dutschke has been working on climate, energy and land use since 1996.

Welcome to my personal homepage!

This is the personal website of Dr. Michael Dutschke. His focus is on the economics of ecosystem services and rural development as a whole.

With the "well below" 2-degrees goal, the Paris Agreement has, for the first time, set a global goal to be reached by all countries of the world in a common effort. All future national policies  across sectors will be measured against this target. Developing countries have achieved to include indigenous rights, the concepts of Mother Earth and Wellbeing in the text. Climate Policy has grown up.

For the first time in negotiation history, this sets climate policy in the context of a common vision. All countries have committed to contribute to the global goal to the best of their abilities, individually or jointly with other country partners. Instead of prescribed modalities, the Parties are free to choose the compliance  mechanisms that best suit their needs.

However, Paris was bad news for privately financed project-based conservation and forest management  projects, called "subnational REDD+" in the Bali decision 2007. Since then, around 200 projects have been established, and it is likely that most of them will not be compensated for their efforts. Read more:

Time to Lay the Nested Approach to Rest?

Is REDD+ Investment Lost

Rethinking Rural Development

Global change is affecting urban and rural areas differently. Also the measures required for mitigation and adaptation vary between cities and the countryside.

The whole production and infrastructure of rural areas being oriented toward the cities. Thd lack of  education and decreasing income opportunities have led to brain drain into the cities. Also unskilled workforce migrates to urban areas, because even marginal service activities offer a better living than seasonal jobs or small-scale agriculture.

Most of the sustainability problems identified over the last 25 years have their roots in dysfunctional rural development:

  • Deforestation is occurring as a consequence of poverty and large-scale industrial agriculture development;
  • Clean water resources become scarce, because of deforestation and erosion in the catchment areas;
  • Most vector-borne diseases are spreading out from degraded landscapes;
  • Over-population is widely a problem of rural areas;
  • Loss of area for food production occurs in rural areas, due to changing rainfall patterns, the lack of adapted agricultural techniques and short-termism in the production of cash crops.
  • Migration is often times the individual consequence of income loss caused by climate change and landscape degradation.

The traditional approach of addressing these problems is poverty alleviation, awareness raising, improved governance, capacity building and education. Activities include well drilling, improving medical facilities and implementing village schools. All of these are necessary elements of landscape remediation, yet they do not address the main issue, which is to attract investment back to the countryside. The underlying paradigm has still been problem oriented. Only an orientation towards a solution will succeeded in leading underprivileged regions onto the path of development.

Rural empowerment is the new paradigm

Little attention has so far been paid to the true development potentials of rural areas, beyond the provision of food and raw materials for industrial production. The new paradigm is rural empowerment. Natural resources need to be managed wisely, in order to maintain their ecosystem services. Forests (even planted forests), aquifers, biodiversity areas and fertile soils provide much more value than is currently being paid for. Roughly one-quarter of the world population has no access to formal markets and is hindered to participate in the solution of the world’s challenges.

As opposed to urban development, rural livelihoods are more determined by their natural circumstances. Each landscape has its own resource fingerprint. Also, social and cultural traditions tend to be stronger.

Rural development offers long-term business opportunities

Rural areas offer huge opportunities in terms of economic development. Communication infrastructure is extending at an unprecedented speed and at the same time, industrial production is decentralizing, due to localized renewable energy production and the rapid adoption of 3D printing technology. Investment in rural areas will no longer be restricted to agro-industry, forestry and minerals. Rural development is more than land grab or the execution of state development plans. Instead, it can be lucrative on the long run, if it valuates and protects diverse ecosystem functions and makes use of the local stakeholders’ experience.