VIDEO: What is the world worth? Putting nature on the balance sheet

For those of you who missed, Pavan Sukhdev’s recent lecture in Sydney, or you’d like to catch it again, you can watch it on ABC’s Big Ideas.

Pavan Sukdev | What is the world worth? Putting nature on the balance sheet.

Environmental damage is already costing us trillions a year, according to Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Green Economy Initiative. Sukhdev applies numbers to things that nature does for free – like purifying drinking water, supplying food and fuel, protecting coasts from storms, and generally keeping humans alive and healthy.

The cost of the global financial crisis stunned the world, with an estimated $862 billion in direct government bailouts alone. After years of running down our natural capital, are we getting close to an environmental version of the credit crunch?

Climate change has been grabbing most of the headlines in recent years, but we are now up against many environmental limits at once. Sukhdev looks at what this tells us about the limitations of our economic system and how it needs to change. The pioneering economist (who also works for Deutsche Bank) describes what the global economy would look like with nature on the balance sheet – and what that means for Australia.

His talk was presented by the Centre for Policy Development at the Sydney Opera House. Afterwards, Pavan Sukhdev joined a panel consisting of leading business people, climate change advocates and scientists.

Pavan Sukhdev is special advisor to the UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative, and study leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). Sukhdev has extensive experience in finance, economics and science and is a board member of Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets Centre Mumbai, a dedicated front-office offshoring hub for Global Markets and a market “first” of its kind. At Deutsche Bank, his roles included being Chief Operating Officer for the Bank’s Asian Global Markets business, Head of Money Markets division for Global Markets Asia, and Chief Operating Officer for the Bank’s Global Emerging Markets division, based in London.

Sukhdev’s long-standing interest in environmental economics and nature conservation includes working with the Green Indian States Trust, where he has published work on preparing comprehensive ‘Green Accounts’ for India and its States, a first among developing countries.

And in his spare time, Sukhdev manages an award-winning eco-tourism and rainforest restoration project in Tarzali, North Queensland, Australia, as well as an organic tea and coffee plantation in the Nilgiri hills, in south India.

Joining Pavan Suhkdev on for a panel discussion are CPD’s Miriam Lyons, Jennifer Westacott (KPMG), Peter Cosier (Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists) and Paul Gilding (Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists).