Going beyond 'Green': the Business Case for Protecting 'Nature'

There’s been an interesting piece written on the Harvard Business Review blogs which discusses what the business case is for protecting nature.

The piece makes the point that finding the business logic for protecting nature has always been a harder sell than making the case for other so-called ‘green initiatives’.

The article suggests that while companies are increasingly seeing the obvious financial benefits of slashing energy use (in other words, ‘talk green, mean lean’) and beginning to include in their calculations the risk reduction from managing water well or limiting the use of toxic chemicals. But there are other aspects of going green that are much less directly quantifiable than kilowatts or tons of carbon –  or the avoidance of regulations or a lawsuit.

One question to be asked for example, does a reduction in the planet’s biodiversity have any implications for – and therefore interest in – for companies? One of the organisations asking the question is the chemicals group Dow, which is now working on the answer with the Nature Conservancy organisation.

The collaboration will use scientific models, maps and analysis for biodiversity and examine the benefits that nature provides for people like clean air, water and food and apply them to Dow’s business decisions. It will inform Dow on setting new policies and approaches in the areas of land and water management, siting considerations and explicit management of biodiversity.

Dow, of course, is predominantly a chemicals company. Could such an approach on biodiversity be remotely relevant for familiar IT companies such as IBM, HP, Microsoft or Fujitsu? Or for commercial organisations using IT? If so, how?