Mission (gray bloc)

Valuing Nature
Samuel Vionnet
Sustainability Expert and Founder
+41 (0)76 372 90 27

I support organisations to integrate the value of natural and social capital into decision making, by providing innovative methodologies, data and expertise.

780% return on investment

For every US dollar invested by Novartis in each of the four carbon-sink projects, an average of USD 7.8 worth of societal value is created thanks to climate change mitigation, ecosystem services,...

How sustainable is renewable hydroelectricity?

The Las Cruces hydroelectric project in Mexico might lead to a negative outcome for the Mexican if built. A natural and social capital accounting method has been used to assess the project's impact,...

There is no sustainability without a balance sheet

Measuring social and natural capital only makes sense when we consider balance sheet. So far, very few organizations have managed to do this. We only see P&L published. But P&L is like GPD, it only...

Jobs at all costs

The private sector is exploring new ways to measure its societal impact, moving beyond traditional economic indicators. We developed an innovative model based on social determinant of health studies....

Achieving net positive impact using the SDGs

If not already done, you will have to use SDGs for defining your net positive impact. But how to measure it? I discuss four steps to support you in this difficult task: your theory of change, your...

Honey is worth more than you think

The Association mellifera is developing a high impact social project around honey bees. Valuing Nature sponsored the creation of one bee colony and calculated the societal value created by the...

Solving half the world’s problems

This article explores the role of Natural Capital within the SDGs and addresses in particular the connexions that exist between SDGs targets. It provide as well some statistics on the maturity of a...

The Sustainable Development Goals and the Mont Blanc

An innovative analysis of the SDG’s targets is unlocking barriers and triggering efficient actions to reach these goals by 2030. By understanding that these targets are inter-connected and that...

The wider benefit of water recycling in a water scarce region

ENGIE, a global energy company, used a water valuation approach to assess the benefits of a water recycling project with the help of Valuing Nature. It showed that the overall benefit generated per...

Water scarcity is not a problem… Undervalued water is

This article summarizes the outcome of a session held at the World Water Week 2015, managed by Valuing Nature, which explored the benefits and limitations of the use of water valuation metrics and...

And now what? The future of Natural Capital Accounting

This article presents the results of a survey, of executives working for private companies and consultancies, on the trends and future challenges of the Natural Capital Accounting approach.

Valuing Water – The Basics

The basic concepts of water valuation as an ecosystem service are presented in this article. Water valuation can fulfil the need for a Natural Capital Accounting method for the private sector. This...

Why is Investment in Watershed Services the future of conservation?

Successful conservation projects have mostly targeted low opportunity cost areas in remote locations until now. Conservation has now entered a new phase by competing with humans needs. Investment in...

The Opportunity Cost of Biodiversity Loss in the Swiss Plateau

Measures to maintain the biodiversity on the Swiss plateau would generate 136 millions CHF of benefit for the society. It is urgent that we realize that the sharp decline in biodiversity in...

Global Land Use Dataset

Data is critical to assess the reliance of companies on natural capital. A new model is available to fill this data gap with a global coverage of land use related externalities.

The Value of Rain

A study showed how to link water footprint and ecosystem services valuation to identify the value of rain and freshwater in Santa Cruz (Bolivia) region. This study was done in partnership with Forest...

Natural Capital Accounting - An Introduction

Recognizing the benefits we obtain from nature is key to ensuring long term profit while creating shared value. This article presents shorty the interest for the methodology, illustrated by a case...

Load more


Valuing Nature
Samuel Vionnet
Switzerland - Guatemala
CH: +41 76 372 90 27
GT: +502 4490-5633‬

Valuing Nature is member of


780% return on investment

For every US dollar invested by Novartis in each of the four carbon-sink projects, an average of USD 7.8 worth of societal value is created thanks to climate change mitigation, ecosystem services, local employment and smallholders' livelihood. Beyond the initial goal of climate change mitigation, these carbon-sink projects support several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promote sustainable business models.

It is common that companies invest in activities and projects with the aim of creating a positive impact. Those activities can be either in their core business or totally separated (sometimes philanthropy activities or “CSR” investments). It goes without saying that companies do not question the benefit generated. Most of the communications around those projects focus at jobs created, ha of land or forest protected, number of person trained or hours of education provided and so on.

The main issue starts when a stakeholder, or a media, discover that the jobs created are barely providing a living wage in a project, or that the ha of forests protected actually exclude nearby communities.

Most of the indicators mentioned previously are mere output from the activity, and they do not guarantee that the life of the people concerned changed significantly for the better. They could actually change for the worse, when jobs provided can be associated to forced labour or happen in dangerous conditions while living wages are not provided.

We need to measure outcomes and impact, following the thinking of an impact pathway which goes from input, activities and output (most of the time what is measured) to outcomes and impact (rarely measured or assessed).

This is what brought us to work together with Quantis for Novartis, to assess the societal impact of four carbon sinks projects in Colombia, Mali, China and Argentina. Each project has some specificities. Some includes an inclusive business model including smallholders (Mali and China) while others focus at local economy development and jobs creation (Colombia and Argentina).

The impact of those projects was assessed using the Social Return On Investment methodology (SROI). The value categories covered were climate change (the initial objective of those projects), ecosystem services (all of those projects involve planting trees), jobs creation and smallholders’ livelihood. The results are presented in a leaflet that you can and they are presented at the figure below as well.

Novartis SROI Results

We realized that carbon sequestration was not the primary benefit of those projects (apart for Argentina), and that for every 1$ spent in the project by Novartis, 7.8$ equivalent were generated in the society. These projects proved to be positive for the society, even by accounting for some negative impact of the projects (use of fossil fuels, materials and fertiliers/pesticides, etc).

This methodology is crucial to inform and improve decision-making by breaking silos of thinking (climate change vs other societal topics) often observed in the field of sustainability. The results of this methodology help engaging and communicate to internal and external stakeholders. It can also sustain the vision of a net positive strategy for a business and provide new business opportunities as well.

In my opinion, this approach is very interesting as it challenges the status quo and the pre-conceived ideas of many people. It open up the mind to new point of views that are critical to taking better decision, for us and for the companies we work for.

Back to homepage