Governments, banks, investors, and CEOs back call for valuing and accounting for natural capital at Rio+20
20 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro: Thirty-nine banks, investors and insurers including Caixa Econômica Federal, Caisse des Dépôts, China Merchant Bank, National Australia Bank, Nedbank, Sovereign, and Standard and Chartered, together with more than 50 countries including Botswana, the Philippines, South Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as corporations such as Unilever , Puma, Dow Chemical and Mars Incorporated, are today making a collective call for natural capital valuation and accounting at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or “Rio+20”.
At an event at Rio+20 today – the Natural Capital Dialogue – opened by the United Kingdom Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, heads of state and other political leaders joined with CEOs from finance and business to voice commitment at the highest level to work towards the development of methodologies to value and account for nature’s vital role in the global economy.
Presidents from Gabon, Costa Rica, prime ministers from Norway, Demark, Ministers from Vietnam, the Netherlands and Sweden, and the EU Commissioner for the Environment participated in the event.
Cameron Clyne, Group Chief Executive Officer of National Australia Bank, said: “As one of Australia’s largest organisations and as a major contributor to the Australian economy, it is crucial for us to prepare for an economic system that recognises the way natural capital contributes to our economy, the community and business. Endorsement of the Natural Capital Declaration is a clear part of our strategy to understand natural capital impacts and dependencies, and also to support our sector adapt for a more sustainable future.”
Antoine Gosset-Grainville, CEO of Caisse des Dépôts, said: “We will definitely not be able to achieve stable and sustainable development without actively preserving and promoting biodiversity. Caisse des Dépôts has, as major financial long term investor, endorsed the Natural Capital Declaration and formally integrated biodiversity in its investment strategy. It is herewith fully committed to support biodiversity and actively contribute to the promotion of natural capital.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “National governments must move beyond a narrow understanding of wealth. Right now we judge how well a country is doing by looking almost exclusively at the money it makes, ignoring the state of assets like forests or coastal areas – vital natural capital.
“Only with this sort of joint effort will we start to make the sort of progress needed.
“In the UK we’re reforming our national accounts so that, by 2020, they also reflect our natural wealth. I’m delighted that UK businesses are leading the way too. Companies such as Marks and Spencer, Aviva and Tesco already report their greenhouse gas emissions and from April 2013, all businesses listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange will include this information in their annual reports.”
President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba said: “Accounting for all aspects of sustainable development, including natural capital, is crucial to our efforts to construct a sustainable future for humanity.”
Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, who spoke at the event, highlighted the need for integration of business and finance sector natural capital accounting and valuation. He said: “The world urgently needs a shift to a more sustainable, equitable form of capitalism, but we cannot do this without the financial sector, whose lending and investment decisions determine whether our natural capital is further depleted or enhanced. The Natural Capital Declaration is a very welcome demonstration of much needed leadership in this area.”
Growing numbers of business leaders are committing to initiatives like the financial sector’s Natural Capital Declaration and the Natural Capital Leadership Compact for the corporate sector, while more than 50 countries are already members of the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) initiative.
Speaking at today’s event, Andrew Mitchell, Director of the Global Canopy Programme – one of the three convenors of the Natural Capital Declaration – said: “A tsunami of financial capital is flowing around the world and using up the natural capital upon which our future wealth and security depends. This erosion of our collective future makes no sense, and it’s time to put our account with nature back in balance. Doing so offers huge opportunity for nations rich in natural assets, and is an essential component of any green growth strategy. It’s not about pricing nature, it’s about saving ourselves. The visible engagement of finance sector leaders in this process is a giant leap forward. We may look back on Rio+20 as the moment in history when a global transformation to account for nature in the world economy really gained momentum.”
World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said: “Rio has provided an opportunity for countries and the private sector to step up their commitment to natural capital accounting and to demonstrate its potential benefits to a global audience. There is now overwhelming support for implementation across the world. Let’s look back in 20 years from now and remember that this was the time when we changed the way we accounted for nature.”
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