Tuesday 5 March 2013

Business recognises nature’s true value

A new report, published today, recognises business’ true reliance on nature and its true value to the economy.

Realising nature’s value is a report from the independent, business-led, Ecosystems Markets Task Force.
The Ecosystems Markets Task Force (EMTF) brings together industry leaders and experts from a wide range of sectors, ranging from banking and biodiversity conservation to beauty, to look for ways in which companies can improve both the environment and their bottom line.  

On 6 November 2012, the Task Force published its Interim Report, Why valuing the natural environment correctly matters for business.  The report set out the aims of the Task Force, its emerging thinking on why nature should matter to business and the potential opportunities for business from valuing nature correctly.  Led by Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive of retail group Kingfisher plc, the EMTF will review the opportunities available to UK business that could help them develop green goods, services, investment vehicles and markets which value and protect the environment.  The Task Force will report back to the Government in early 2013 through the Green Economy Council.  You can read the report, published on Defra’s website http://www.defra.gov.uk/ecosystem-markets/work/publications-reports/

The report strongly signals the need to take a fresh look at business to ensure that opportunities are taken to link business development with protecting and restoring the natural environment.  

Nature is good for business.  That is a fact.  Society has been too reliant on an old-fashioned view of economic growth which seems to imagine that wealth creation can somehow be achieved at the expense of the natural environment.  Yet our prosperity depends entirely on nature whether it is better management of our woods for fuel, the creation of wetlands to reduce flooding, the restoration of rivers to improve water quality, or creating new wildlife-rich places where people live.  In future, economic growth that damages the environment will simply not be considered economic growth at all.  Businesses that recognise this now and get ahead of the curve will be in a better competitive position in the future.

One of the report’s recommendations is the mandatory linking of biodiversity offsetting to new developments.  This means that, once the most important wildlife sites have been protected, any residual environmental impact will be “paid for” through a system of conservation credits.  The Wildlife Trusts welcome the report’s recommendation for this to be mandatory.  Any land lost to development should lead to gains for wildlife elsewhere.

We must not hold business back from doing the right thing.  Biodiversity off-setting must be mandatory to avoid creating uncertainty and a sense that wildlife is an ‘optional extra’.  I have not read the entire report but this recommendation is an example of some of the important thinking that has gone into the report.

The Government will respond to the Ecosystems Markets Task Force report Realising nature’s value in the summer when The Wildlife Trusts will look for recognition by the Government that nature is vital to the economy.


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