In response to news that Australia and the United States intend to work together on ‘natural capital accounting’, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:
“Businesses use nature because it is valuable, but nature is being damaged because businesses think of it as free. Valuing nature is important.
“Recent research shows roughly half Australia’s GDP (49% or $896 billion) has a moderate to very high direct dependence on nature – and indirectly every single dollar that flows through the Australian economy depends on the health and survival of natural systems.
“Businesses must account for nature, because destroying it is affecting lives and livelihoods – and the performance of businesses and the whole economy.
“Businesses need to assess, disclose and reduce their exposure to nature-related risks and shift away from activities that destroy nature toward activities that restore it.
“Valuing nature will help governments and businesses track and rebuild natural capital. Right now, nature is in rapid decline.
“Natural capital accounting should be about gathering accurate information about the state of nature and its relationship with the economy.
“We need accurate information so governments and businesses can plan for the future and make sure they are operating within nature’s boundaries.
“The destruction of Australia’s nature, as described in the latest state of the environment report, isn’t just putting our favourite holiday places and the wildlife we love at risk, it is also a threat to jobs and prosperity.
“As we damage nature and exceed nature’s limits, its ecological functions are altered, along with the ecosystem services they provide to people.
“Treasurers and central banks have a responsibility to measure the state of nature, the ways our economy depends on nature and what damage economic activity is doing to nature.
“It’s worth keeping in mind that not all of nature can be economically measured. You can’t put a dollar value on hundred-year-old tree hollows or million-year-old wetlands. But these places and the species they house must still be protected.”
Some industries – like agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food manufacturing – have a very direct and obvious dependence on nature, but indirectly, there is not a dollar exchanged in the economy that does not depend on nature.
Every worker and consumer needs clean air and water, food, their health and a safe climate.