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Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Natureby Mark Tercek and Jonathan Adams
Synopses & Reviews
Environmentalism has traditionally been anathema to business. To most corporations, nature is merely the source of commodities — raw materials — to be extracted and sold. Short-term profits override long-term environmental consequences; sustainability is sacrificed for the bottom line. The green lobby is a petty annoyance, a fly to be squashed under the great force of capitalism. And the ill-will goes the other way — environmentalists are generally scornful of big business and its ruthless, single-minded search for profit; they are skeptical of any green” initiatives a corporation might sponsor.
But economic growth and the well-being of nature are not mutually exclusive. In Nature's Fortune CEO of the Nature Conservancy (and former Goldman Sachs banker) Mark Tercek and conservation biologist Jonathan Adams argue that profit and environmental stewardship need not be competing ends, and that in fact, saving nature is the smartest investment any business or government can make.
Tercek and Adams show that the responsible stewardship of natural resources is now of utmost economic importance for people who do not traditionally consider themselves environmentalists. Farmers, ranchers, loggers, fishermen, miners, corporate executives, and investment bankers must begin to properly value the natural systems their business depends on — and account for them on their balance sheets. After all, whether you're talking about company assets or natural resources, success in business and conservation ultimately both depend on properly assessing value.
This idea is slowly but surely taking hold in unexpected corners. For instance: In Iowa, the unprecedented occurrence of three 500-year floods over a 17-year period awakened the corn farming community to the reality that the area's economic future was dependent on the conservation of floodplains. Thus a broad coalition of unlikely collaborators, including sportsmen, farmers, conservation organizations, business leaders, and elected officials, worked together to pass the largest conservation ballot initiative in the country, an amendment to the Iowa state constitution that would create a fund to reduce, prevent, and mitigate the impacts from future flooding. In the largely red state of Iowa, the amendment received more votes than the Republican candidate for governor.
Nature's Fortune will tell the story of a new kind of conservation — bold, flexible, innovative, financially sophisticated, and relevant from megacities to small towns to trackless wilderness, from the developed world to the remote countryside. It is a revolutionary guide to the worlds economic — and environmental — well-being.
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.'” Publishers Weekly
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.” Kirkus Reviews
"There are probably more important reasons to protect the natural world, but as this book makes clear, its economic folly to keep wasting our one sweet planet. Its worth infinitely more than economists have traditionally taught — infinitely more!" Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College, and author of Eaarth
"In Nature's Fortune, Mark Tercek and Jonathan Adams expertly articulate the interdependence of our economy and natures economy, and the practiced ways both can be saved in perpetuity." Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University Research Professor, Emeritus, and author of The Social Conquest of Earth
"This is a critically important book that comes at just the right moment. The business community is coming to understand the value — and the necessity — of protecting the environment. Now, the environmental community needs to talk about nature using the language of business: assets, risks, and innovation. Nature's Fortune is the guidebook that can move environmentalism to this next level." Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute, and author of Steve Jobs
What is nature worth? The answer to this question — which traditionally has been framed in environmental terms — is revolutionizing the way we do business.
In Nature's Fortune, Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former investment banker, and science writer Jonathan Adams argue that nature is not only the foundation of human well-being, but also the smartest commercial investment any business or government can make. The forests, floodplains, and oyster reefs often seen simply as raw materials or as obstacles to be cleared in the name of progress are, in fact as important to our future prosperity as technology or law or business innovation.
Who invests in nature, and why? What rates of return can it produce? When is protecting nature a good investment? With stories from the South Pacific to the California coast, from the Andes to the Gulf of Mexico and even to New York City, Nature's Fortune shows how viewing nature as green infrastructure allows for breakthroughs not only in conservation — protecting water supplies; enhancing the health of fisheries; making cities more sustainable, livable and safe; and dealing with unavoidable climate change — but in economic progress, as well. Organizations obviously depend on the environment for key resources — water, trees, and land. But they can also reap substantial commercial benefits in the form of risk mitigation, cost reduction, new investment opportunities, and the protection of assets. Once leaders learn how to account for nature in financial terms, they can incorporate that value into the organizations decisions and activities, just as habitually as they consider cost, revenue, and ROI.
A must-read for business leaders, CEOs, investors, and environmentalists alike, Nature's Fortune offers an essential guide to the world's economic — and environmental — well-being.
About the Author
Mark Tercek is president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. Before joining The Nature Conservancy, Mark was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he played a key role in developing the firms environmental strategy. He headed the firms Environmental Strategy Group and Center for Environmental Markets, which developed and promoted market-based solutions to environmental challenges. Over the course of his more than twenty years at Goldman Sachs, Mark headed various business units at the firm, including Corporate Finance, Equity Capital Markets, Consumer/ Healthcare and Leadership Development. Mark is a member of many boards and councils, including Resources for the Future, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and previously served on the board of Literacy Partners. Mark holds an M.B.A. from Harvard and a B.A. from Williams College.
Jonathan Adams is a science writer and conservation biologist. He is the author most recently of The Future of the Wild: Radical Conservation for a Crowded World, and co-editor of Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States. Jonathan received an M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Maryland, an M.A. in Writing About Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. from Columbia University.
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