Friday 23 July 2010

The Value of Nature and the Nature of Value

On 13th July the first “Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium” was held as part of the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. This was the back-drop to the publication of a major report by an international study called “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity”.

This is global stuff! We hear little about it in our press (but see my May 2010 blog), but there are some mighty intellects trying to work out how to correct the market failure that is our economic system. The point of this symposium was to highlight how business can address the inconsistencies in our current economic valuing systems so we take better account of the natural capital on which we all depend. For a fascinating insight I suggest you go to the web site:

and read some of the quotes from different key people who attended (including the Wildlife Trusts own CEO – Steph Hilbourne). There's also a short film that makes interesting viewing.

The best thing I can do here, however, is just to quote Pavan Sukhdev who has led this international study:

"Our economic compass is faulty and must be updated to better reflect the roles of human capital and natural capital in our economy. We must ensure that the costs and benefits of conserving nature are calculated as best as possible, recognised by leaders, businesses ad citizens alike, included in the accounts of society and managed in order to be distributed more fairly across communities and to remain sustainable for generations to come

We have been losing trillions of dollars of losses per annum as a consequence of our global economic mechanism failing to account for the natural capital that underpins industries such as construction, tourism, energy, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. We must recognise the nature of value and the value of nature and move now to create a sustainable future.

We stand here at a fork in the road of human history – they are signposted “brown economy” and “green economy”. Both paths appear economic in the short term, but only one leads us to a long-term future. It is the path of the “green economy” – a path to recognising and conserving the value of nature, creating jobs and industries and helping tackle poverty."

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