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


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 Trends, the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency, Fundacion Natura Bolivia and Quantis.

Release date: 03.06.2015
Category: Case studies
A recent publication by the World Economic Forum regarding the global risk landscape found that water is the risk that could have the highest impact globally. Water management and stewardship is still a challenge for most organizations and communities.

The recent increase of interest for ecosystem services valuation and water footprint highlights the potential of these new metrics to guide decision-making towards more sustainable choices.

The study in question, presented at the 2014 World Water Week (at the Water Footprint Network annual meeting), is focused on the dependency of the agricultural sector of the Santa Cruz region in Bolivia on water related ecosystem services. I was the first author leading the study while at Quantis.

The study explored in particular the link between forests ecosystems and soybean farmers, based on two different ecosystem services (see figure below): local climate regulation with rainfall provision and freshwater provision. The study used the green and blue water footprint indicators from the Water Footprint Network to measure those ecosystem services. The soybean farmers were targeted first as they represent nearly half of the water footprint of the agricultural sector in the region.

Illustration of the two ecosystem services assessed in this study

The valuation of the rainwater ecosystem service was based on local statistics linking yield changes to precipitation data, thus measuring a marginal value. We found an average value for green water of 0.05 USD/m3.

The valuation of the freshwater ecosystem service was based on the potential future value it could bring to farmers, as irrigation is not widespread at the moment. We estimated, based on a local study, the potential yield increase as a result of irrigation. We found an average value for blue water of 0.5 USD/m3. This value is higher than the green water value. This difference of value can also be explained by the fact that blue water is available when crops need it the most and freshwater is generally more scarce, increasing its value.

The link between those two ecosystem services, green and blue water, and forests was done thanks to selected literature that established the same link in other places like the Amazon region, although it was not possible to rely on local data in our case. We identified three main forests ecosystems as being critical to maintaining the local rainfall (green water): the local Andean forest, the Amazon forest and the local forest in Santa Cruz. The Andean forest is particularly important to support the provision of freshwater.

This analysis was used to derive scenarios at regional level. We identified that the potential reduced rainfall due to climate change could cost the soybean sector in the integrated region of Santa Cruz USD 30 million per year. We also identified that the future potential net value of freshwater for the soybean sector might be of USD 462 million per year.

The interpretation of the results is however still ongoing and a report will soon be published. More information will be available shortly.

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