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 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...

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

Valuing Nature is member of


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 Watershed Services (IWS) tools might become crucial to their success.

Release date: 11.06.2015
Category: Ideas

According to Joppa and Pfaff 2009, most protected areas are most likely to be found in high, steep locations far from cities and roads. There is an economic reason behind this fact: by doing so we do not lose other opportunities to utilize the land for agriculture, forest extraction, or any other use. These are the low hanging fruits as most of those places are “unlikely to face land conversion pressures even in the absence of protection”. Of course, this already has the benefit of protecting part of the world’s biodiversity and is found to be quite successful in doing so.

However, human demographic expansion and our increased use of resources to satisfy our standard of life enter into conflict with biodiversity in most of the unprotected places (see environmental footprint concept and my article about a case study in Switzerland).

When speaking about conflict or competition around the use of resources, one comes to consider trade-off for decision making. Currently, most of the decisions we do are based on financial considerations, while forgetting the value we get from nature. As Prof. Edward Barbier (a member of TEEBs Advisory Board) stated, “we use nature because it is valuable, we lose nature because it is free”.

Analysing trade-off and accounting for the value of nature requires new methods and tools that are provided by the fast developing field of natural capital accounting and ecosystem services valuation. Besides the importance of getting measures and metrics to manage nature, new tools and institutions are needed to manage and conserve biodiversity once its value has been recognized.

Investment in watershed services (IWS) is a key set of institutions, mechanisms and solutions to conserve biodiversity through the recognition of ecosystem services and benefits it provides to our society. The basic principles around IWS are based on the common interest of two or more stakeholders, which include at least one downstream stakeholder that perceives the benefit from the watershed (for example, clear water provision) and an upstream owner, which owns lands on which the ecosystem providing services is located (for example a forest, which provides clean water).

 Based on this simple example, different solutions might be used, for example:

  • Bilateral agreements (payments or other kind of compensation in building materials and other goods)
  • Publicly or privately regulated funds
  • Trading & offsets
  • Etc.

IWS is particularly useful in a context where we need to ensure the cohabitation between our society, our built capital and nature. In a situation where trade-offs need to be analyzed, due to a competition over natural resources, IWS provides efficient tools to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from the activities put in place. A good source of information about existing case studies is the Ecosystem Market Place created by Forest Trends.

IWS solutions have not been widely used by the private sector, apart from a few exceptions. Given the current context where pressure from stakeholders, needs for transparency and external risks related to sustainability are all increasing across the value chains of companies, it is very likely that the private sector will invest more in IWS tools as a key part of their sustainability strategy.

It will have a direct benefit for them to ensure reduced costs through security of supply of raw materials, licenses to operate, reduced risks and increased access to markets through increased reputation and sustainability related communications (annual reports, targeted marketing and labeling, among others). New types of collaboration will be needed with, for example, the NGOs having experience in such initiatives (such as Forest Trends).

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