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Natural Capital Coalition Tackles Accounting

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Business Coalition, founded by the Global Reporting Initiative, WWF-UK and six other organizations to change corporate behavior to preserve, rather than deplete the world’s natural capital, has officially launched in Singapore.

Puma and Deutsche Bank are serving in advisory roles to the coalition, which argues that business viability hinges on the health of the ecosystem and its resources. The coalition includes The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Economic Development Board of Singapore, Conservation International and Global Initiatives.

The coalition will study and standardize methods for natural capital accounting to enable its valuation and reporting in business.

The TEEB for Business Coalition is the business application of the G8+5 and UNEP-supported TEEB program, led by Pavan Sukhdev, founder of consultancy GIST Advisory.

In its first year, the coalition plans to map out what other initiatives are looking at; identify and rank the top 100 business impacts; complete a business plan and establish its principal office; hold one major conference; and complete 11 valuation exercises from the top ‘100’ list.

The coalition plans to open a second office and complete another 11 impact valuation studies in its second year of operation. In year three, the coalition says it expects to open a third office, hold a major conference and complete a further 23 impact valuation studies.

The cost to establish and run the coalition for three years will be about $8 million, the coalition said.

Two years ago, TEEB released a report for the UN indicating companies were causing significant damage to the world’s natural capital – such as forest, freshwater and marine systems – and posed risks to their own profits.

Since then several organizations including TEEB have tried to make a business case for valuing natural capital, noting that companies rely on ecosystems that provide critical services, such as water and food.

In June, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical and Duke Energy were among 24 major companies that agreed to develop a methodology to assign value to the world’s forests, freshwater and marine systems. The Corporate Eco Forum and The Nature Conservancy are leading the Valuing Natural Capital initiative, announced at the United Nations’ Rio+20 Earth Summit.

Committed firms also include Alcoa, CH2M Hill, Clorox, Darden, Dell, Disney, Ecolab, EKO Asset Management Partners, Enterprise, FEMSA, GM, Hanes, Kimberly-Clark, Lockheed-Martin, Marriott, Nike, Patagonia, TD Bank, Unilever, Weyerhaeuser and Xerox.

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