The next inconvenient truth?

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A friend of mine participated in Al Gore's Climate Project last week and one of her strongest impressions was of Al Gore's zeal. It goes a long way to explaining his success at positioning the climate change debate over the past year. And there are many over inconvenient truths crying out for that sort of touch - including biodiversity.

Biodiversity is like brand: you know the term, you sense its importance but defining it (particularly at the company level) typically takes you into the world of intangibles. Which is no good if you want a business case to work from. Specialist consultancies long since moved into that space for brand management - so what next for biodiversity?

Ecosystem services show some promise: demonstrate the market value and in doing so, change the market. Goldman Sachs recently awarded Woods Hole with a grant for research in this area (specifically on forests) and the Natural Capital Project was launched in the last quarter of 2006. You can even read an equation filled academic paper on application of portfolio theory to ecological services.

The incentives for markets remain weak though - and governments will need to play their part, however imperfect the result (think Kyoto Protocol - flawed but without it, would there be a carbon market at all?). And a Stern-like review of biodiversity - assessing cost of action now versus deferral to the next generation - would do no harm either.

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