Three distinguished experts, Annelisa Grigg, who heads up the environmental markets team at Fauna & Flora International, Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University, and Professor Vivian Moses of CropGen, each faced the challenge of convincing a panel of leading City investment specialists that a functioning and profitable market could be established for ecosystem services, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - whilst at the same time helping address some of the most fundamental environmental challenges facing the planet.
After hearing the evidence presented and panel debate, the audience was tasked with voting for what they deemed to represent the best investment opportunity. No clear winner captured the evening: establishing a market for ecosystem services won the audience vote for offering the best potential environmental benefits, whilst GMOs were voted to offer the best potential financial returns.
The event was seen as very topical given the growing business case for ecosystem services, recent calls to step up efforts on climate change, and the heightened need to feed a growing world population while minimising the impact on the environment.
Penny Shepherd MBE, Chief Executive of UKSIF, chaired the evening and summed up by saying, "This event showed just how much can be achieved when we harness our collective imaginations to deliver a sustainable future. By bringing together environmental and investment experts, it helped drive forward effective, innovative, and financially viable solutions to the challenges we face."
Marcus Gilleard, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Earthwatch added, "Despite the global economic downturn, the evening did much to highlight the increased risks that society will face if investment decisions fail to shift toward supporting a more sustainable economy."
Attended by over 100 people, the event was organised under the auspices of the Earthwatch Corporate Environmental Responsibility Group (CERG) to stimulate a debate and help inform financial investors, decision-makers and companies of the investment opportunities arising from new or emerging environmental markets.
Earthwatch, in association with UKSIF, held a timely debate on Tuesday 11th November 2008 to explore the purported financial returns and environmental benefits of several emerging green investment opportunities.