Doing Business With Nature: Commercial Logic is Key to Business Action on Natural Capital

by Gemma Cranston
Apr 20, 2015 1:30 PM ET
Dr. Gemma Cranston is Senior Programme Manager at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).


Implementing measures to safeguard water, biodiversity and soil across supply chains makes sense. We know it, you know it, but do CEOs know it? A quick scan of the websites of the world’s biggest companies suggests that only a select few really get it. A lack of evidence of the commercial benefits has become a major barrier to business increasing sustainability – just when we need action the most.

In January, a report by the independent UK government advisory body, the Natural Capital Committee, found that the decline in England’s natural environment is harming the economy. As part of its 25-year investment plan, the Committee proposed increasing green spaces and improving air quality to save money on the National Health Service, and creating wetlands to prevent flooding from disrupting farming, transport and business activity. To my mind, this is how companies should be thinking, but on a wider scale. Managing risk means boosting sustainability across global supply chains, taking into account increasing external pressures like climate change and shifting consumer demands from a rapidly growing population.

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Dr. Gemma Cranston is Senior Programme Manager at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). The Natural Capital Leaders Platform <> brings together influential companies with a global reach to address their dependencies and impacts on natural capital, and to translate enable this into a tangible business context. CISL works with companies and individuals to deepens leaders’ insight and understanding through its Business Leaders Platforms and programmes such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains, designed to equip senior and mid-career professionals and managers with the skills required to establish resilient and sustainable value chains that are fit for the future.