Goldman Sachs Speaks out on Value of Ecosystem Services

gslogpo.gifGoldman Sachs’ new environmental policy acknowledges the threat of global warming and other crises, but it goes a significant step further – recognizing the degradation of the planet’s “ecosystem services“. Such services are the provision of clean air and water, the control of pests, floods, drought, fertile soil, and processing of waste. They have been recognized by the UN as demonstrably in decline throughout the world. The company is seeking to utilize markets (presumably like carbon trading) to address the decline of various ecosystem services in areas where voluntary action alone has proven ineffective, as well as to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and promote various other activities.
The recognition of “ecosystem services” is of special value in that it starts a thought process that promotes the quantification of what the planet provides, free of charge, on a daily basis. In contrast, drawing from one of my favorite Hunter Lovins lectures in Natural Capitalism – you may recall the “biosphere II” project, an “artifical earth” designed to provide all the needs for 8 people for two years. It failed to do so despite over $200 Million in investment. If $200 Million can’t satisfy the needs of 8 people, then what’s the value of a system that does it daily for 6 Billion? It’s not funny math, and smart companies and leaders are starting to see it that way.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

One response

  1. That’s the problem, these “ecosystem services” are offered free of charge, so we take them for granted. I don’t really like the concept of attempting to monetize these services and therefore trade them on a market (like carbon trading). But then again, if that works, then who cares who likes the concept so long as we get good results. What would be great is if we got a strong policy framework coming out of Montreal. That would create the incentive to further expand the carbon trading markets.

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