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.
His talk was presented by the Centre for Policy Development at the Sydney Opera House. Afterwards, he joined a panel consisting of leading business people, climate change advocates and scientists.
Peter Cosier is the Executive Director and Founding Member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.
Cosier was Deputy Director General in the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, where he was responsible for science and information and previously spent 6 years as Policy Advisor to the then Australian Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, where he was responsible for native vegetation and water reform, biodiversity conservation programs and international greenhouse policy.
Cosier has a background in science, specializing in natural resources management and urban and regional planning. He has worked at all levels of Government - Federal, State and Local - and also in private business.
Paul Gilding is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability.
An activist and social entrepreneur for 35 years, his personal mission and purpose is to lead, inspire and motivate action globally on the transition of society and the economy to sustainability. He pursues this purpose across all sectors, working around the world with individuals, businesses, NGOs, entrepreneurs, academia and government.
He has served as CEO of a range of innovative NGOs and companies including Greenpeace International, Ecos Corporation and Easy Being Green. He has also helped to establish and served on the board of a number of new NGOs including Inspire Foundation, the Australian Business Community Network and Climate Coolers. His speaking and work has taken him to over 30 countries including the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, South America, Europe, South Africa, the USA and Mexico.
Miriam Lyons is the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Development. Formerly the Policy Coordinator of New Matilda, Lyons has a long history of bringing policy ideas to new audiences, as the founding director of the Interface Festival of Ideas in Sydney, and director of the Ideas Program for the StraightOutof Brisbane Festival.
Lyons has also worked as a freelance writer and a media development consultant in East Timor with the international NGO, Internews. Lyons was a participant in the 2020 Summit and was recently nominated in the Thinkers category of The Australian's Emerging Leaders series.
Pavan Sukhdev is Special Advisor and Head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, a major project suite to demonstrate that the greening of economies is not a burden on growth but rather a new engine for growth, employment and the reduction of persistent poverty.
Sukhdev is also Study Leader for the G8+5 commissioned report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a project he was appointed to lead in March 2008 by the EU Commission and Germany whilst still working full-time at Deutsche Bank. TEEB's Interim Report was welcomed globally for its fresh economic outlook, showing the economic significance of the loss of nature's services, and connecting biodiversity and ecosystems with ethics, equity and the alleviation of poverty.
A career banker, Pavan Sukhdev is on a sabbatical from the Bank for two years to conduct his environmental projects, TEEB and the Green Economy Initiative. He continues to be on the Board of Deutsche Banks Global Markets Centre Mumbai (GMC Mumbai), a company he founded and then chaired. GMC Mumbai, a dedicated global hub for global markets "front-office off-shoring" activity, was a market first of its kind which Sukhdev had set up for Deutsche Bank in February 2006.
Until July 2008, he was the Head of Deutsche Bank's Global Markets Business in India, including its Fixed Income and Equities divisions and GMC Mumbai. From 2006 to 2008, he led the build-out of Deutsche Banks Global Markets presence in India into a veritable powerhouse, spanning capital markets origination, trading and sales, a fixed income primary dealership, a market-leading equities institutional brokerage, a newly formed Non-banking Finance Company and also GMC Mumbai.
Sukhdev pursues long-standing interests in environmental economics and nature conservation through his work with the Green Indian States Trust (GIST) and other NGO's. GIST has researched, developed and published methodology and empirical work on preparing comprehensive "Green Accounts" for India and its States, a first among developing countries. Sukhdev is Chairperson of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity, and a speaker at Davos 2010.
Jennifer Westacott is the national lead partner for KPMG's Sustainability, Climate Change and Water practice and was previously the Director General of the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources where she had responsibility for urban and regional water resource management, the management of native vegetation and land clearing and the administration of the planning system including the setting of strategic directions for accommodating growth in NSW. She was the Lead Commissioner for NSW for the Murray/Darling Basin Commission.
Westacott was responsible for developing the 25-year plan for Sydney to manage population growth and for the major release of land for new suburbs in western Sydney under the principle of water and energy efficient and walkable neighborhoods. Westacott also had responsibility for the introduction of the BASIX building sustainability index which will see a 40 per cent reduction in water use and 25 per cent reduction in energy use for all new houses built in NSW.
Westacott also led reforms in NSW such as the end of broadscale land clearing of native vegetation and for aligning NSW's waste management arrangements with the National Water Initiative.
Westacott was recently commissioned by the South Australian Government to overhaul their planning system and to provide a framework for a 30-year Plan for Adelaide to respond to population growth and prepare the city to adapt to climate change.