: The high-profile international speakers at a Sustainable Business Council (SBC) conference in July - Valuing Nature - intend to demonstrate to New Zealand businesses how best to preserve our natural capital
The 'ecosystem' approach to business decision-making, adopted by an increasing number of top global companies, requires business to consciously assess what their dependencies are on nature - freshwater for manufacturing, soil quality for horticulture, to name but a few - and assess the risk to business if these natural assets were destroyed or depleted.
The ecosystem approach is expected to become critical to all countries in the next decade - but particularly those, like New Zealand, that make their fortunes through their natural environments. Those speaking at the Valuing Nature conference include Pavan Sukhdev, a former banker with Deutsche Bank who has founded GIST Advisory, a specialist consulting firm that helps governments and corporations discover, measure, value and manage their impacts on natural and human capital; and Nobel Prize winner Sir Robert Watson, who has held previous positions with NASA as chief scientist, associate director for environment with the former Clinton administration, and former chair of the UK's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Other speakers include mining expert and Bathurst Resources CEO Hamish Bohannan, CEO of Business NZ Phil O'Reilly, and James Griffiths from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The New Zealand SBC, in association with public and private sector partners including the Department of Conservation and Victoria University, is hosting the event.
SBC executive director Penny Nelson says the issue of wider recognition for nature's contribution to our prosperity isn't confined to the fringe any longer - but more needs to be done to incorporate it into decision making at all levels. "Despite our 100% Pure tagline, we can, as a country, be quite complacent about preserving the 'natural capital' that underpins and supports our economy," she says. It has been estimated that the world's 100 biggest business impacts are costing the global economy around $USD4.7 trillion each year in terms of lost ecosystem services and pollution, but New Zealand business and government decision-making has not paid heed to these alarming figures as yet, she says. "The benefits or services derived from nature such as fresh water, good soil that supports our agriculture sector, or forests that prevent erosion and boost our tourism offer are generally taken for granted," she says.
Valuing Nature: the economy and the environment conference
Embassy Theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington 9-10 July