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Can Big Biz Make Money PROTECTING Nature?

Something we can't let ourselves forget is that companies are always trying to make a profit, sometimes in nefarious ways. Instead of simply exploiting the environment, companies may be able to make a profit helping to SAVE it.

It turns out that many CEOs see nature loss as a challenge to business growth. In BBC News, Richard Black quotes economist Joshua Bishop as saying, "Better accounting of business impacts on biodiversity, both positive and negative, is essential to spur change in business investment and operations. Smart business leaders realize that integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services in their value chains can generate substantial cost savings and new revenues, as well as improved business reputation and license to operate." But this realization varies from country to country. A recent survey found that more than half of CEOs in Latin America see declines in biodiversity as a challenge to growth by industry, but only 20% do in Western Europe (and only 15% in the UK). Only two of the world's largest 100 companies see biodiversity and ecosystem loss as a problem for the future of their businesses. It's interesting to note that in countries with high levels of biodiversity, awareness of the decline in this biodiversity was correspondingly high, such as 90% among CEOs in Brazil.

In BBC News, Black quotes economist Jon Williams as saying, "Businesses need to start thinking about ecosystems as an extension of their asset base, part of their plant and machinery, and appreciating the value they deliver." He quotes economist Pavan Sukhdev as saying, "We can move to a stage where big companies and countries are able to say 'we're meeting 20% of our emissions targets.' Then we can look at other issues, such as the forest's water storage function for local people, for example. So it won't be a market in the classical sense but it will be a mechanism, and companies investing would be able to see whether their investments bring about things such as an improvement in water availability or an increase in the tiger population or whatever it might be."

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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