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ERM joins debate on valuing nature to improve sustainable decision making and cut costs

01 April 2011

James Spurgeon – Technical Director for ERM’s Environmental Economics team – has joined the debate on how companies are increasingly considering their impacts and dependencies associated with ecosystem services.

Quoted in the Financial Times article - Biodiversity: Valuing nature can cut business costs[1] – the comments come as part of a Special Business and Environment Report[2] highlighting how companies are increasingly going beyond carbon to include water, biodiversity and other ecosystem services in addressing sustainability and business decision-making.

“Ecosystem valuation is coming. It is in the interests of businesses to understand how “valuing of nature” works,” states James. “Although it’s not a perfect science, its application will result in more sustainable business decision making”. ERM is currently assisting a number of leading companies on this topic to develop associated risk and opportunity ecosystem and sustainability assessment tools.

The article coincides with the publication of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Guide on Corporate Ecosystem Valuation that ERM authored and which is due to be launched on 8 April 2011. The Guide provides a five stage process for companies to assess the financial and societal costs and benefits associated with ecosystem services in relation to company projects, products, landholdings etc. It was developed in conjunction with 15 multinational company road test applications covering sectors such as oil, mining, water, paper, chemicals and manufacturing.

Also quoted in the same Special Business and Environment Report are Ernst and Young and PwC both of whom state the global economic need, and financial business case, for pricing natural resources and pollution to ensure sustainable development. Additional articles in the Report also cover various economic and financial aspects of sustainability, for example relating to reducing carbon emissions, water markets/pricing and employee retention.

  1. Financial Times 21 March 2011
  2. Financial Times 22 March 2011 

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