The business ledger of the future will include the value of nature

By Wright Communications

Ecosystem economics - where the value of natural resources is incorporated into accounting systems - is practised by some of the biggest companies and governments in the world, and is expected to hit the shores of New Zealand very shortly.

In preparation, locals are being offered the opportunity to hear from some of the world's leading experts in natural asset valuation who will visit Wellington in early July to prepare New Zealand business people for the inevitable move to understanding the value of nature and incorporating it into balance sheets.

The Sustainable Business Council will join with other public and private sector partners including the Department of Conservation and Victoria University to explore how businesses overseas have adapted to the new accounting paradigm.

Penny Nelson, executive director of New Zealand's Sustainable Business Council says the issue of wider recognition for nature's contribution to our prosperity isn't one confined to the fringe any longer - but more needs to be done to understand it.

"Despite our 100% Pure tagline, New Zealand as a country can be quite complacent about preserving the 'natural capital' that underpins and supports our economy," says Nelson.

"Understanding the value of nature aligns strongly with the New Zealand brand and is essential to creating a sustainable future. Internationally, business leaders are realising 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. This thinking has huge potential for New Zealand business, while also creating significant gains for the long-term wellbeing of our society."

The benefits (or services) derived from nature such as fresh water, good soil that supports our agricultural sector, forests that prevent erosion and are part of New Zealand's tourism offer, are generally taken for granted and do not feature as a value in government or business decision-making.

A recent report by UK consultancy TruCost found that the world's 100 biggest business impacts are costing the global economy around USD $4.7 trillion per year in terms of the environmental and social costs of lost ecosystem services and pollution.



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