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 organization's 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.
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About the Author
Jonathan S. Adams is a science writer and conservation biologist. The author of The Myth of Wild Africa, The Future of the Wild, and co-editor of Precious Heritage, he lives in Rockville, Maryland.
All proceeds from Nature's Fortune benefit The Nature Conservancy.
Table of Contents
A Note to Readers ix
1 Maybe It's Not Chinatown After All 1
2 Not a Drop to Drink 19
3 Let Floodplains Be Floodplains 37
4 The New Fishing 59
5 Feeding the World-and Saving It 81
6 The Million-Dollar Mile 105
7 Investing in the Future in the Face of Climate Change 127
8 Town and Country 147
9 The Business Case for Nature 165
Works Cited 203
What People are Saying About This
“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.’”
Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank
“Nature has long been recognized as a source of wealth, but we have yet to give natural capital the proper weight in economic decision making. In this timely book, Mark Tercek argues persuasively that investing in conservation and sustainable use can yield huge dividends for both people and the environment.”
Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline
“In the 1970s environmentalists and business despised each other. In this century they are often close partners. The change was brought about by leaders like Mark Tercek. His book shows how prosperity is as dependent on clean rivers as on strong bridges (both are infrastructure). GMO crops can be as welcome as restoring wildlands, since they both contribute to a healthier planet.”
David Quammen, author of Spillover and The Song of the Dodo
“The cause of conservation in the twenty-first century desperately needs sharp, sophisticated, practical minds from the world of commerce. Mark Tercek’s is clearly among the best of them.”
John Fahey, Chairman and CEO, National Geographic Society
“Mark Tercek argues with refreshing clarity and persuasiveness that we must recognize the substantial economic value in our scarce natural resources. I agree wholeheartedly that the ultimate allocation and use of these resources must be market-based, backed by wise regulation. Tercek makes his point with wonderful real-life examples and prodigious logic.”
Henry M. Paulson, Jr., former chief executive of Goldman Sachs and Treasury secretary, and chairman of the Paulson Institute
“Mark Tercek knows business and he knows the environment. We have worked together on both. This book shows us how we can bring them together to the benefit of nature and our economy.”
Morton Schapiro, Professor of Economics and President, Northwestern University
“This is an important book for environmentalists, investment bankers, and everyone else. It presents a compelling case that investing in nature is a great dealnot just morally but economically as well. It is in all of our enlightened self-interest to take this book very seriously.”
Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College, and author of Eaarth
“There are probably more important reasons to protect the natural world, but as this book makes clear, it’s economic folly to keep wasting our one sweet planet. It’s worth infinitely more than economists have traditionally taughtinfinitely more!”
Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University Research Professor, Emeritus, and author of The Social Conquest of Earth
“In Nature’s Fortune, Mark Tercek and Jonathan Adams expertly articulate the interdependence of our economy and nature’s economy, and the practiced ways both can be saved in perpetuity.”
Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute, and author of Steve Jobs
“This is a critically important book that comes at just the right moment. The business community is coming to understand the valueand the necessityof 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.”