What is nature worth? The answer to this question – which traditionally has been framed in environmental terms – is revolutionizing the way we do business.
In Nature's Fortune, Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former investment banker, and science writer Jonathan Adams argue that nature is not only the foundation of human well-being, but also the smartest commercial investment any business or government can make. The forests, floodplains, and oyster reefs often seen simply as raw materials or as obstacles to be cleared in the name of progress are, in fact as important to our future prosperity as technology or law or business innovation.
Who invests in nature, and why? What rates of return can it produce? When is protecting nature a good investment? With stories from the South Pacific to the California coast, from the Andes to the Gulf of Mexico and even to New York City, Nature's Fortune shows how viewing nature as green infrastructure allows for breakthroughs not only in conservation – protecting water supplies; enhancing the health of fisheries; making cities more sustainable, livable and safe; and dealing with unavoidable climate change – but in economic progress, as well. Organizations obviously depend on the environment for key resources – water, trees, and land. But they can also reap substantial commercial benefits in the form of risk mitigation, cost reduction, new investment opportunities, and the protection of assets. Once leaders learn how to account for nature in financial terms, they can incorporate that value into the organization's decisions and activities, just as habitually as they consider cost, revenue, and ROI.
A must-read for business leaders, CEOs, investors, and environmentalists alike, Nature's Fortune offers an essential guide to the world's economic – and environmental – well-being.
A Note to Readers
Chapter 1. Maybe It's Not Chinatown After All
Chapter 2. Not a Drop to Drink
Chapter 3. Let Floodplains Be Floodplains
Chapter 4. The New Fishing
Chapter 5. Feeding the World–and Saving It
Chapter 6. The Million-Dollar Mile
Chapter 7. Investing in the Future in the Face of Climate Change
Chapter 8. Town and Country
Chapter 9. The Business Case for Nature
Mark R. Tercek is president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy. Tercek was previously a managing director and Partner at Goldman Sachs, where he led various business units and later was tapped to build and lead the firm's environmental strategy. He lives in Washington, DC.
Jonathan S. Adams is a science writer and conservation biologist. The author of The Myth of Wild Africa, The Future of the Wild, and co-editor of Precious Heritage, he lives in Rockville, Maryland.
All publisher proceeds from Nature's Fortune benefit The Nature Conservancy.
"The authors convincingly argue that corporate responsibility is not only the right ethical tactic, but the right business move [...] According to this savvy book, both environmentalists and business executives need to understand 'how nature contributes to economic and ecological well-being.'"
– Publishers Weekly
"A hopeful message that a sensible marriage of business and environmental interests is in the cards, which until now has mostly been trumped by shortsightedness."
– Kirkus Reviews
"By breaking conservation down into dollars and cents, Mark Tercek shows that economic growth and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive goals. Nature's Fortune takes a pragmatic approach to an important issue, and turns the conversation from ideology to arithmetic."
– William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America
"In this encouraging, intelligent book that comes none too soon, Mark Tercek and Jonathan Adams show that the corporate world ultimately can't flourish unless the natural world does, too. Through stories equally compelling to entrepreneurs or environmentalists, CEOs or scientists, we see how Nature's Fortune and our own are inextricable. If we conserve and nurture our planet's gifts like any other crucial asset or investment, we profit – or, we squander them at our own peril. Happily, this book shows why we needn't, ever."
– Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us and Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope on Earth
"This book makes plain as day why we need to stop taking nature's gifts for granted. Its thoughtful solutions can underpin conservation goals with a powerful business logic. From an alarming premise, we are given reason to hope."
– Chris Anderson, TED Curator
"Mark Tercek presents a timely argument for 'valuing' nature that will be meaningful as much to business as to environmentalists. He demonstrates how this can work and why it is important, whether with water and forests high in the Andes, the floodplains of the Mississippi, fisheries off the California coast, or even in the dense centers of major cities. The result is a compelling 'business case' for investment in nature that is also an agenda for action – and cooperation."
– Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
"In this telling work, Nature's Fortune, Mark Tercek reveals how an investment banker becomes a conservationist and brings two seemingly incompatible worlds together with amazing grace and immense success."
– Marshall Goldsmith, bestselling author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There, MOJO, and Succession
"If ever business and nature are going to realize their full potential to grow together, it will come about from the vision and perspectives that are contained in the pages of this book. A case like this could only be made by an author who has led passionately on both sides of the equation."
– Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company
"In Nature's Fortune, Mark Tercek tackles the environment with a banker's eye and an outdoorsman's heart. He makes a clear case for why protecting nature is the smartest investment we can make."
– Ted Turner, Chairman, Turner Enterprises, Inc.
"Nature is essential for both our human as well as our economic well-being. As someone who has lived in both worlds, Mark Tercek is well positioned to take us on a guided tour of the intersection between business and the environment. With clear examples, this timely book provides a road map for smart investments and new alliances to build a sustainable and prosperous future for people and planet. Bravo!"
– Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE USA
"Nature has long been recognized as a source of wealth, but we have yet to give natural capital the proper weight in economic decision making. In this timely book, Mark Tercek argues persuasively that investing in conservation and sustainable use can yield huge dividends for both people and the environment."
– Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank
"In the 1970s environmentalists and business despised each other. In this century they are often close partners. The change was brought about by leaders like Mark Tercek. His book shows how prosperity is as dependent on clean rivers as on strong bridges (both are infrastructure). GMO crops can be as welcome as restoring wildlands, since they both contribute to a healthier planet."
– Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline
"The cause of conservation in the twenty-first century desperately needs sharp, sophisticated, practical minds from the world of commerce. Mark Tercek's is clearly among the best of them."
– David Quammen, author of Spillover and The Song of the Dodo
"Mark Tercek argues with refreshing clarity and persuasiveness that we must recognize the substantial economic value in our scarce natural resources. I agree wholeheartedly that the ultimate allocation and use of these resources must be market-based, backed by wise regulation. Tercek makes his point with wonderful real-life examples and prodigious logic."
– John Fahey, Chairman and CEO, National Geographic Society
"Mark Tercek knows business and he knows the environment. We have worked together on both. This book shows us how we can bring them together to the benefit of nature and our economy."
– Henry M. Paulson, Jr., former chief executive of Goldman Sachs and Treasury secretary, and chairman of the Paulson Institute
"This is an important book for environmentalists, investment bankers, and everyone else. It presents a compelling case that investing in nature is a great deal – not just morally but economically as well. It is in all of our enlightened self-interest to take this book very seriously."
– Morton Schapiro, Professor of Economics and President, Northwestern University
"There are probably more important reasons to protect the natural world, but as this book makes clear, it's economic folly to keep wasting our one sweet planet. It's worth infinitely more than economists have traditionally taught – infinitely more!"
– Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College, and author of Eaarth
"In Nature's Fortune, Mark Tercek and Jonathan Adams expertly articulate the interdependence of our economy and nature's economy, and the practiced ways both can be saved in perpetuity."
– Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University Research Professor, Emeritus, and author of The Social Conquest of Earth
"This is a critically important book that comes at just the right moment. The business community is coming to understand the value – and the necessity – of protecting the environment. Now, the environmental community needs to talk about nature using the language of business: assets, risks, and innovation. Nature's Fortune is the guidebook that can move environmentalism to this next level."
– Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute, and author of Steve Jobs