European businesses can evaluate their impact upon vital ecosystems with the help of a new step-by-step online guide

Banking with nature

The framework, called Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV), is designed to enable companies to calculate their effect on the natural environment in both ecological and monetary terms.

Timber, water and crops, as well as flood protection qualify as ‘ecosystem services’. Firms can influence these either directly through use of natural resources or indirectly via greenhouse gas emissions, pollution or even improvements to water quality.

Until now, few businesses have sought to quantify their environmental liability in financial terms. The CEV analysis system, developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is designed to make this process easier to achieve.

The innovative five-stage tool has been piloted by 14 businesses worldwide, including corporate giants such as Hitachi and Rio Tinto. Participants claimed that benefits ranged from reducing costs and revaluing company assets, to minimising risk and identifying new revenue streams.

Environmental consultant, Pavan Sukhdev, often dubbed ‘nature’s banker’, endorses this more quantitative approach to environmental impact. He said: “We need a new compass to set different policy directions, change incentive structures, reduce or phase out perverse subsidies, and engage business leaders in a vision for a new economy. Holistic economics – or economics that recognise the value of nature’s services and the costs of their loss – is needed to set the stage for a new ‘green economy’.”

For more information on the CEV visit www.wbcsd.org/work-program/ecosystems/cev.aspx

Pavan Sukhdev’s recent TED talk on the value of nature can be seen at www.ted.com/talks/pavan_sukhdev_what_s_the_price_of_nature.html

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