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."
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).
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.