wrdforwrd

green and sustainable business

Nature’s Fortune: Start Investing in Nature

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natures-fortune-215x143We know that it’s wise to take care of Mother Nature, and not just because it’s not nice to do otherwise. From a business standpoint it’s even wiser to invest in nature.

In his new book, Nature’s Fortune, Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, makes a strong and impassioned case that business and environmental interests must align for everyone’s long-term benefit. And that includes the planet. New win-win alignments may be closer to reality than many might realize.

Tercek wrote the book, published by Basic Books, with the science writer and conservation biologist Jonathan Adams. His premise is that business and society can thrive by investing in nature through new alliances that “will enable us to conserve nature on a scale never before achieved.”

What’s needed is a new valuation of nature, which Tercek calls “natural capital,” or placing a value on nature as an asset. This is not a Pollyanna/tree-hugger thought: He brings a plateful of credibility to that idea because prior to joining TNC in 2008 he was a managing director and partner at Goldman Sachs. At Goldman he was named by then-CEO Henry M. Paulson (yeah that Henry) to build and lead the firm’s first environmental efforts, not necessarily in the name of corporate social responsibility, but from a “pure business standpoint.”

“Conservation and business need a more sophisticated and nuanced calculation, one based on sound finance principles and a deeper appreciation for how nature contributes to economic and ecological well-being,” Tercek writes. “When conventional economics leaves natural capital out of the equation, both ecosystems and the economies built upon them are imperiled.”

A new valuation of nature, he continues, is one that integrates “conservation values and human development, science and economics.” It means “seeing things whole; if we want a successful business, a livable city, a green diverse, and vibrant planet, we have to take nature into account and recognize the real value of the services nature provides.”

Businesses, governments and individuals must form a “three-legged stool” to save the world from environmental degradation. Those three actors “need to understand that nature is not only wonderful, it is also economically valuable.”

This will require major shifts in the mindsets of environmentalists and businesses to get past long-held and carefully nurtured suspicions of each other, along with notions that “consorting with the enemy” is an inherently dangerous path. Is it really possible to apply Wall Street thinking to conservation? Can environmentalists really work with Coca Cola and Dow Chemical to save nature?

Tercek says yes. He is optimistic that “seizing the opportunity to work with companies as they pursue environmental strategies to strengthen their business provides the chance to create significant conservation gains.”

It means that “unlikely alliances” will have to emerge with business, investors and governments joining farmers, ranchers, students and urbanites in the pursuit of strategies based on the understanding that everyone depends on nature.

As Tercek says, saving nature means saving wild species and wild spaces, of course — but it also means saving ourselves.

[Image: Nature’s Fortune from The Nature Conservancy website]

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  1. […] We know that it’s wise to take care of Mother Nature, and not just because it’s not nice to do otherwise. From a business standpoint it’s even wiser to invest in nature. In his new book, Nature’s Fortune, Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, makes a strong and impassioned case that […] wrdforwrd Read Original Post […]


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