In my own work and art I have been very interested in trying to bring value to things that have been helping us along in life but never really get the recognition they deserve.
Our communities have had to endure environmental degradation and exploitation for commercial purposes. Let’s not be too smug – we need businesses to employ our communities and provide us with goods and services. But over the past little while we have finally collectively recognized that the ways in which we do business currently are not sustainable.
THE NATURAL CAPITAL PROJECT is moving forward with research to develop tools that will allow business leaders to make more informed decisions about the environmental resources they use and how they use them.
“Ecosystem Services” is a phrase you are going to start hearing a lot more often. It’s a concept that proposes that nature is doing a lot of work that is simply not being recognized; if we can provide a way for the work nature does (that we rely on) to be recognized, we can consider the implications of our actions. It’s an interesting idea which is much along the same lines of SROI (Social Return on Investment) – where the value being created by non-profits and other social ventures is not wholly represented by a monetary return. For the true value of the work to be undrestood the monetary and non-monetary values (i.e. social good or ecosystem service) needs to be recognized together in a holistic manner. For a more “official” definition of Ecosystem Services click here.
From my understanding the good people at The National Capital Project have been creating “demonstration projects” at sites where changes to the environment can have drastic consequences. These sites are where models are being created for leaders from other organizations to SEE how the models and tools work and more importantly how to integrate these new ideas into their own decision making processes (all links are from The Natural Capital Project):
- Sierra Nevada Region, California, USA
- Upper Yangtze River Basin, China
- Hawaiian Islands, USA
- Sumatra, Indonesia
- Northern Andes and Southern Central America (NASCA)
- Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania
I’m pretty interested in this concept as it does relate to my own readings in SROI. I’m going to try to do an interview with Manu Sharma – an engineer who is currently working on the project who is based at Stanford. (He also happens to be one of my dearest friends ever in life – when I learned about his work I was pretty awe-struck).
Until my interview with Manu – If you have 60 seconds (which I know you do) take a listen to this podcast from Scientific American about ecosystem services (I found the link to this via The Natural Capital Project website)