26 Sep 2017
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BBC Earth puts nature on the stock exchange

MUMBAI: Every year bees contribute over £106.2 billion to the global economy; coral over £6.1 trillion; plankton over £138.7 billion; and beavers almost £500 million. These figures were released today by BBC Earth in a pilot model for an Earth Index that demonstrates the financial contribution that nature makes to the world economy every year.

BBC Earth has published the Earth Index in the financial sections of the Wall Street Journal (US); Times (London); Singapore Business Times (Singapore); and the Economic Times (India), putting nature on the stock exchange for the first time.

BBC Earth creative director Neil Nightingale commented, “When you see the figures in black and white it’s illuminating to see that the annual revenues of the world’s most successful companies, Apple; General Motors; Nestle; Bank of China, all pale in comparison to the financial return to our economy from natural assets.”

The Earth Index was devised to place nature at the heart of economic conversation by understanding the financial value of the services we receive each year from natural resources. To create the Earth Index, BBC Earth worked with British environmental specialist Tony Juniper to commission a scoping study from the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

“We scoured the available research and data to find comparable figures to company stock listings and settled on the financial value delivered each year. What this unequivocally shows is the major contribution that nature makes to our health, wealth and security,” said Juniper.

Nightingale added, “By recognising the practical and economic benefits that we derive from natural assets we can better understand the impact of long term changes in natural capital.”

BBC Earth’s ‘nature stock exchange’ is based on a study of the existing available data, and the Earth Index pilots a model for reporting the financial contribution that nature makes to the global economy.

“Embarking on this study revealed the paucity of consistent information available about the financial importance of nature to our society. Our review of the existing research has shown us how vital the ecological economy is to us—and yet there are no consistent measures for natural capital. Nature of course has an intrinsic value over and above its monetary contribution. But what the nature stock exchange shows is that its economic importance cannot be ignored,” said Nightingale.

To accompany the Earth Index, BBC Earth has created ‘Cost the Earth’, an interactive feature that challenges people to guess the value of global companies such as Starbucks compared to natural assets such as Otters or commodities such as Diamonds.

Examples of the services that we receive from natural assets include:

Coral

Valued at £6,187,500,000,000

Bees

Valued at £106,250,000,000

Vultures

Once valued at £1,634,615,385

Beavers

Valued at £497,500,000