[An] “overdue digest.” “Once the business case for greenery is accepted, as Mr Tercek shows, the results are often stunning.”
“What makes Nature’s Fortune valuable– and I liked this book a lot — is that it acknowledges the complexity of such abstract notions as ”natural capital” and “ecosystem services” and brings them down to earth, while recognizing that the argument for investing in nature is far from settled.”
Could Wall Street, Big Business and Ecology coexist in the same room? Can we expect Tercek and The Nature Conservancy to advocate that an economy whose governing standard of value has been the gross domestic product must recognize resource constraints, pursue a broad sustainability agenda, and redefine “growth” to be consistent with that agenda?
The answer, in short, is yes. Tercek has made it his mission to transcend the outmoded dichotomies contained in these questions, to re–formulate the way we think about economic and environmental issues, and to pursue conservation projects through innovative collaborations around the world.
“Tercek’s banking imprimatur, a different kind of green roots, may legitimize to the business community that business can be a beneficial environmental partner.” “…the book is a good primer for business readers and will sit nicely on a shelf next to Ray Anderson’s Mid-Course Correction and Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist, Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, and other books about the relationship between ecology, economics, and how the two are increasingly interdependent.
The authors convincingly argue that corporate responsibility is not only the right ethical tactic, but the right business move….According to this savvy book, both environmentalists and business executives need to understand ‘how nature contributes to economic and ecological well-being.
Tercek came to TNC because it embodies the idea that traditional hostilities between environmentalists and business can be overcome in a way that benefits both nature and annual profits.
This may sound unlikely. But he shows that a growing number of companies claim to recognise that protecting nature is good for their bottom lines in a world with worrying levels of resource scarcity. Once businesses see evidence of a “bottom-line pay-off” from investing in natural assets, they will change their practices to favour nature, he says.
It is so far unproven, despite the hundreds of sustainability reports issued by the world’s leading companies each year. But if accounting for natural capital ever does become conventional corporate wisdom, Tercek has a point; and in the meantime, his arguments are very much worth reading.
Tercek is president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy and formerly served as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he worked to find market-based solutions to environmental challenges. Adams is a science writer and conservation biologist. Common belief holds that business and environmental groups are at odds, with loggers, ranchers, fishermen, and corporations that exploit natural resources on one side and the so-called tree huggers on the other. In the past few decades, however, we have reached a tipping point; with seven billion people on the planet, the earth’s resources are long past being considered inexhaustible, and big business is coming to realize that stewardship of the environment is in their best interests. From renewal of the Mississippi floodplain to the banning of fishing trawlers along our shores to the restoration of prairie and wetlands in urban areas, unlikely allies are coming together to create models of sustainability that serve the interests of both business and environmentalist groups. The authors examine this new kind of conservation and show how it is of utmost economic importance to our farms, fisheries, corporate stakeholders, and communities.
Nature Conservancy president Tercek and science writer Adams explore the possibilities of the environmental movement joining with the business community to tap nature’s capital, to the betterment of both.
Can activities that produce good environmental outcomes also produce good commercial results? Can the businessperson’s fundamental concerns square with the time-honored environmentalist’s belief in the natural world’s inherent value? The authors claim that there is plenty of common ground, and they provide a number of examples to make the point: Where would Coca-Cola be without a clean and plentiful supply of fresh water? This constitutes an opportunity to save habitats that “act as giant sponges,” from the high grasslands of Ecuador to the flood plains of the Mississippi River. The fishing industry can avoid the tragedy of the commons through easements, markets for trapped fish, communal fisheries and catch shares. McDonald’s has changed its purchasing policies to avoid alignment with the plunderers of the rain forest. Protecting coral reefs and planting drought-tolerant trees increases productivity while avoiding environmental degradation. Green urbanism is looking at the city system as a whole, providing green space and creating a framework for ecologically sensitive development. The authors call for long-term vision, particularly when it comes to our youth, who need encouragement and incentives to get outside and burnish their innate biophilia and sense of place. Occasionally, the authors’ optimism that business will see the long-term light may not convince skeptics appalled by the rush to frack and more deep-sea drilling, but there is no denying the opportunities available in the big picture.
A hopeful message that a sensible marriage of business and environmental interests is in the cards, which until now has mostly been trumped by shortsightedness.