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Government must do more to realise growth opportunities of natural capital

5th September 2014

The Aldersgate Group welcomes the wide acceptance of the work of the business-led Ecosystems Markets Task Force (EMTF) set out in the Government’s response published on 5th September. But while the Government has favoured the vast majority of the recommendations, the actions described could fall well short of delivering the contribution to growth and business opportunity that ambitious implementation of the EMTF's carefully crafted suggestions would make.

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the EMTF said: “The business opportunities highlighted by the EMTF will not be realised if Government is not prepared to make them tangible and secure for investment in new nature based markets. For example, it is vital that the current consultation on biodiversity offsetting does not result in a voluntary scheme which, the published Impact Assessment shows, will deliver absolutely nothing for growth. It would be a massive missed opportunity which has been estimated to be worth £450 million over the next decade. I am pleased that there will be the opportunity to scrutinise progress on all 22 recommendations next spring.”

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We need a repayment plan for nature

3rd September 2014

The Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, Peter Young, has said we need a repayment plan to address the natural capital debt. Delivering the closing remarks at RSPB's Conference for Nature alongside other keynote speeches from Sir David Attenborough and the Rt Hon Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, he said that the debt to nature was far worse than the financial debt.  

Peter Young said: "If the Greek debt crisis looked bad our natural capital debt is even more grave. The plant will become truly bankrupt if we don't start reducing it soon. We need a credible repayment plan to start restoring nature now."

"The next government must act for nature. New legislation to halt destruction and start recovery, a clear long term remit for the Natural Capital Committee Mk II, and consistent linkage between the health of the individual, the economy and nature in policy making would do it for me. It is time to halt the selfish complacency of procrastination which politicians have shown in dealing with our urgent environmental problems."

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AG Chairman to lead new Defra review panel

9th April 2014

Defra has announced that Aldersgate Group Chairman, Peter Young, will preside over a review panel to help shape England’s environmental legislation as part of their Smarter Environmental Regulation Review (SERR). Joining his review panel is AG member Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s Terry A’Hearn.

Defra has found that the current framework “evolved in a piecemeal way” and being “fragmented, overlapping, inconsistent and complex”. They are building on the first phase of SERR to consider the scope to reform environmental legislation. The panel aims to propose a new long-term direction and framework for environmental legislation as well as actions for the next 5-10 years. They are set to report to Ministers in late 2014.

To read the terms of reference for Phase 2 of SERR, click here

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Paterson calls for business to show leadership on natural capital

26th March 2014

Speaking at an Aldersgate Group event, Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, argued that "our long-term prosperity and wellbeing relies on recognising the real value of nature." 

The Secretary of State noted that momentum is building in the natural capital movement and argued that the Government had made "solid progress" delivering on the recommendations of the the Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF).  

Sir Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive of Kingfisher and EMTF Chair, also speaking at the event, argued: “we have to go further and faster…The Government’s heart is in the right place. The challenge now is to push through in some of the areas where the politics is perceived to be difficult.” 

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Biodiversity offsetting report welcomed

12th November 2013

The Environmental Audit Committee has published its report into biodiversity offsetting in England (click here). Drawing on multiple submissions of oral and written evidence, including from the Aldersgate Group (click here to read), the report is cautiously in favour of biodiversity offsetting providing the correct measures and safeguards are implemented. The Committee insists that biodiversity offsetting must not be allowed to give developers a "carte blanche to concrete".

Ian Dickie, Director of the Aldersgate Group and author of the Group's submission, said: "Biodiversity offsetting can be an appropriate tool to help tackle conservation objectives, providing it ensures existing levels of protection and is mandatory. We would warn that understanding of biodiversity offsetting is currently at a low level, which makes it vital that the Government does not rush this process and takes due time to design an effective system."

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High quality biodiversity offsets appropriate for conservation

3rd November 2013

The Aldersgate Group has responded to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)'s consultation on biodiversity offsetting.

The Group's response finds that the most important goal for this area is biodiversity protection and enhancement, which makes offsetting an appropriate tool to help with wildlife conservation objectives in England, providing it is structured appropriately. The framework must ensure no dilution of existing protection and that the system is robust and mandatory. 

The Aldersgate Group has also co-signed a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for offsetting to be mandatory. This letter can be viewed here.


Government must do more to realise growth opportunities of natural capital

5th September 2013

The Aldersgate Group welcomes the wide acceptance of the work of the business-led Ecosystems Markets Task Force (EMTF) set out in the Government’s response published on 5th September. But while the Government has favoured the vast majority of the recommendations, the actions described could fall well short of delivering the contribution to growth and business opportunity that ambitious implementation of the EMTF's carefully crafted suggestions would make.

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the EMTF said: “The business opportunities highlighted by the EMTF will not be realised if Government is not prepared to make them tangible and secure for investment in new nature based markets. For example, it is vital that the current consultation on biodiversity offsetting does not result in a voluntary scheme which, the published Impact Assessment shows, will deliver absolutely nothing for growth. It would be a massive missed opportunity which has been estimated to be worth £450 million over the next decade. I am pleased that there will be the opportunity to scrutinise progress on all 22 recommendations next spring.”

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AG welcomes report on ecosystem services

6th March 2013

The Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF) has published its Final Report, making the business case for why nature matters. It finds that business is often unaware of its true reliance on nature and a new way of looking at nature will create innovation and mitigate risk. It recommends interventions which would help create new markets, enhance opportunities for growth and also benefit the environment.

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the Task Force said: "The report demonstrates the significant benefits that can be achieved for business and the natural environment through integrated thinking. The Aldersgate Group agrees that safeguarding the quality of our natural environment, will benefit our economic performance."

In November 2011 the Aldersgate Group published its report, Pricing the Priceless, which found that incorporating the value of nature into decision-making will be vital to safeguard long-term economic growth.


Business calls for valuing nature correctly

6th November 2012

The Ecosystem Markets Task Force, which brings together industry leaders and experts from a wide range of business sectors, has published its Interim Report, detailing its emerging thinking on why nature should matter to business and the potential opportunities for business from valuing nature correctly.

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the Task Force, said: "The Task Force is doing ground breaking work underpinned by some excellent research. This Interim Report sheds a light on why our failure to value the natural environment is impoverishing business, the environment and society as a whole.

"I hope that Government will respond to this business-led initiative to give the structures and certainties for new markets to be developed, to build a leadership position for the UK. Making nature an integral part of business thinking is the only way to go."

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Nature must be valued in decision making

14th September 2012

To open the Friends of the Earth's Conference on "Seeing Things Differently", Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, argued that a priority for change must be the development of economic and accountancy frameworks which reflect full environmental costs and benefits.

He said that "currently, much of the world's land, forests, waters, air and ecosystems are being liquidated for short-term growth imperatives that will lead to massive costs later on. They appear on the balance sheet as zero and are often not accounted for in decision making."

Andrew was joined on the panel by authors Polly Higgins (Eradicating Ecocide) and James Marriott (Platform).

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Natural capital must be integrated into decision making

17th July 2012

Responding to the publication of the EFRA committee's report on the Natural Environment White Paper, Ian Dickie, Aldersgate Group Director, said:

"The Committee is right to call for natural capital to be better integrated into Government decision-making, as highlighted in the Aldersgate Group's "Pricing the Priceless" report last year. The Committee calls on the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to lead a programme of action, but it should also demand leadership from the Treasury, which influences the way so many resources are used in the economy, in implementing that programme."


Guardian podcast: what can Rio+20 achieve?

7th June 2012

Andrew Raingold, Executive Director from the Aldersgate Group, contributed to a Guardian podcast on what tangible measures the Rio+20 conference can hope to produce. He cites the huge transformation in business attitudes and opportunities since the last Rio Earth Summit twenty years ago and the need for robust regulatory frameworks to stimulate green growth and a resource revolution.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

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Businesses vote for food security to be priority for Rio+20

18th May 2012

A sustainable, healthy and affordable diet should be the number one priority for Governments at Rio+20 according to a business summit specially convened by the Aldersgate Group.

The Rio+20 Business Summit, hosted by PwC, and attended by over 170 business, policy makers and NGO's, debated the practical outcomes the business world needs to see from the forthcoming Rio+20 international negotiations on the state of the planet.

Paul Kelly, ASDA Head of Corporate Sustainability, made the case for food security, calling for action now, in particular to reduce supply chain waste, rather than sustainable intensificaiton of agriculture alone. Mr Kelly said: "There is no greater political imperative than food security. The stark truth is that if the world's Governments don't make food security their number one priority, than creating a green economy will be for nothing"

Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, said: "The Aldersgate Group summit showed the significant support we have from the business community for a green economy and clear outcomes from Rio+20."

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Aldersgate Group supports Natural Capital Declaration

22nd March 2012

In the run up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the Aldersgate Group (AG) has supported the Natural Capital Declaration. This is a finance-led initiative to account and embed natural capital within investment, banking and loan decisions, consistent with the recommendations in our Pricing the Priceless report.

For more information, click here

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Can we put a price on nature?

26th January 2012

AG Director Ian Dickie, was a keynote speaker at the first Earth Debate, organised by the Natural History Museum in the run up to the RIO+20 Earth Summit. The event was a wide-ranging debate which highlighted the importance of understanding the value of nature, and to put this into a language that decision makers understand.

Ian argued that ecosystem services can link to familiar business terms through concepts such as natural capital, which demonstrate that "environmental assets have a value for humans and business both now and in the future." He said that valuing such services in monetary terms can help "inform the decision-making process and sustain economic value from the environment into the future".

To watch the debate, click here.

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Protecting biodiversity vital for future economic success

28th November 2011

A new report by the Aldersgate Group (AG), launched at the the Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium today, finds that protecting biodiversity and introducing new frameworks to incorporate the value of nature into decision making will be vital to safeguard long-term economic growth. It points to research that conservatively estimates that the failure to address biodiversity loss will lead to cumulative losses that will be equivalent to around 7% of global consumption by 2050 and recommends by the end of this Parliament, the Chancellor should present a draft natural capital budget alongside the fiscal budget.

Peter Young, AG Chairman and member of the Government’s Ecosystem Markets Taskforce, said: "The protection of biodiversity must be a priority as we seek to build a stronger, more resilient economy. Preserving and replenishing services provided by nature will provide business opportunities now and huge economic benefits in the future.”

To read coverage in Guardian Sustainable Business, click here.


AG helps launch Ecosystem Markets Task Force

23rd November 2011

Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, joined Ian Cheshire, Chief Executive of Kingfisher, and Caroline Spelman to launch the Ecosystem Markets Taskforce.

Peter Young said at the launch: "There is an unnerving similarity between the exceedence of sustainable ecosystem services and the exceedence of sustainable finance that has led to the sovereign debt crisis. Both rob future generations of riches which we have mortgaged or depleted. The timing of this task force is absolutely right to build on the recent National Ecosystem Assessment and pledge to produce Natural Capital accounts. I believe business is eager to lead in developing markets and opportunities to stop depletion and start enhancing the incredible value of services provided by nature."

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Natural Environment White Paper seeks to value nature

7th June 2011

The AG welcomes the aspirations of the Government's Natural Environment White Paper, the first for over 20 years, which seeks to value the economic and social benefits of a healthy natural environment properly while continuing to respect nature's intrinsic value.

The white paper will inform a new initiative by the AG on the economic benefit that will arise from effective policies to protect biodiversity and promote the more efficient use of natural capital. This will be led by AG Director Ian Dickie.

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AG responds to consultation on measuring national wellbeing

30th April 2011

The AG has responded to the consultation from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on measuring national wellbeing.

The AG response argues that measurement affects the decisions we make, so if the wrong things are measured the wrong decisions are likely to result. The Group welcomes the goal of moving "beyond GDP" and argues that the movement to understand the value of natural system services to our socio-economic activities is a powerful concept that should be a driver for higher environmental standards, leading to increased economic performance and wellbeing.