Global policy makers and business leaders should urgently address the growing biodiversity crisis, according to Pavan Sukhdev, a Special Adviser to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative.
Speaking at the annual Earthwatch Oxford lecture on 10 February, Pavan outlined the role business can play in redefining economics for the 21st century around a new sustainable model, which fundamentally values and protects the natural world.
Entitled Can economics really save wild nature? the event was co-hosted by Earthwatch and strategy consultancy/think tank SustainAbility. Around 300 people attended the event, including senior business leaders, opinion formers, and representatives from the science and NGO communities.
With the Tenth Conference of Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan in October, 2010 is viewed as a critical turning point in the future of species conservation. Pavan said: "We will face even greater economic and environmental disaster in the future if we do not urgently address the loss of our Natural Capital and reset our economic compass. We have an ethical duty to act now - to delay is immoral."
Pavan Sukhdev is Special Adviser to UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, which aims to show that the greening of economies can stimulate growth and employment and reduce poverty. He is also Study Leader for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study, hosted by UNEP with financial support from the European Commission, Germany, the UK, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden. The study is making a compelling economics case for the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.
Executive Vice-President of Earthwatch, Nigel Winser said: "The world's extinction crisis continues in 2010, the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity. As humans we have the power to protect nature or destroy it. As this lecture will demonstrate, we must urgently explore all the ways in which we can preserve and protect life on earth. After all, biodiversity is crucial to providing us all with health, food, fuel, wealth and the vital services on which our lives depend."
SustainAbility's Executive Director, Gary Kendall said: "TEEB is an extremely important initiative at a crucial juncture in human development. The failure of our prevailing economic growth models to properly value the kaleidoscope of life-support systems provided by the biosphere for free represents an accounting error of monumental proportions. The TEEB study provides a solid platform on which to correct this error, by recognising the contribution of ecosystem services toward economic development as we drive towards sustainability."
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Coming soon: watch this space for our podcast of Pavan's lecture.
Earthwatch is an international environmental charity whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
Earthwatch currently supports 50 environmental research projects in 24 countries by providing funds and paying volunteers who work alongside leading field scientists and researchers.
To ensure our research addresses pressing global environmental issues, Earthwatch preferentially funds projects that fit the focus of one or more of the following priority research areas: ecosystem services, climate change, oceans and cultural heritage.
More than 91,000 volunteers have joined Earthwatch scientists in the field since the charity began in 1971, contributing thousands of days to essential fieldwork.
Established in 1987, SustainAbility is a strategy consultancy and think tank working with senior corporate decision-makers to achieve transformative leadership on the sustainability agenda. SustainAbility offers a range of services designed to create financial value at the same time as addressing environmental, social and governance issues in an integrated manner. SustainAbility's vision is a just and sustainable world for present and future generations.
Pavan Sukhdev is Special Advisor to the UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, and Study Leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a project he was appointed to lead in March 2008 by the European Commission and Germany.
Pavan brings extensive experience from finance, economics and science to TEEB and the Green Economy Initiative. He has already shown himself to be a financial innovator. As a senior banker, he is on the board of Deutsche Bank's Global Markets Centre Mumbai (GMC Mumbai). During his career with Deutsche Bank he has also had roles as head of their Global Markets division in India, Chief Operating Officer for the bank's Asian Global Markets business based in Singapore, head of the Money Markets division for Global Markets Asia, and then Global Markets Asia-Pacific. In London he was Chief Operating Officer for the bank's Global Emerging Markets division.
Pavan has a long-standing interest in environmental economics and nature conservation through his work with the Green Indian States Trust (GIST). GIST has researched, developed and published work on preparing comprehensive ‘Green Accounts' for India and its States, a first among developing countries. He is also president of the Conservation Action Trust (CAT), an Indian NGO dedicated to achieving environmental sustainability for India, and co-founder and trustee of the India Environment Trust (IET), a UK charity dedicated to supporting efforts by Indian NGOs and individuals to conserve India's historic human heritage and its unique biodiversity and natural heritage.