Businesses rally to promote profit sense of valuing environment

A group of influential businesses has published its final report to the Government advising that substantial economic benefits could be made if companies value their surrounding environment more.

According to the Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF), led by companies and organisations including Kingfisher, Liz Earle, Unilever and Climate Change Capital, businesses are unaware of their true reliance on nature and a new approach to maximise opportunities and manage future risks is needed.

Launched yesterday, the report sets out 22 practical recommendations for business and Government which aim to bring environmental best practices into the mainstream.

The recommendations involve encouraging streamlined biodiversity offsetting, closing the loop on farms with the use of bio-energy and anaerobic digestion, increasing nature-based certification and labelling to connect consumers with nature and implementing improved water cycle catchment management.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “This report shows that it is possible to boost the economy while at the same time we improve the environment.

“It adds new ideas and thinking in many areas that we’re already enthusiastically pursuing: such as biodiversity offsetting, anaerobic digestion and imaginative water management. We’ll be looking at all the recommendations and responding formally in the summer.”

According to Task Force chair and Kingfisher group chief executive Ian Cheshire, the majority of businesses know that the world’s natural resources are being used up more quickly than they can be replaced, but do not realise their direct or indirect dependence on them.

“With this report we set out to raise awareness of both the risks of doing nothing about it and the opportunities to be had from thinking differently about the value of nature to business,” he said.

Friends of the Earth broadly agreed that businesses should adapt their ways of working to protect the natural systems their success relies upon.

However, it reacted angrily to the report’s endorsement of biodiversity offsetting, claiming it was “fundamentally flawed.”

In a statement the NGO said: “The suggestion that a developer should be able to pay for damaging a wildlife area with the promise that new natural space will be created somewhere else is a real threat to our cherished local nature sites and will do nothing to restore nature on the scale needed across Britain.”

Conor McGlone

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