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


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 Association mellifera using the Total Impact Valuation methodology. Results showed that 60 CHF of societal is created per each honey jar on average.

Release date: 11.12.2015
Client: Association mellifera (picture credit: Sébastien Moine)
Category: Case studies
Download the report

(French version availble here)


Bees are critical to ensure the production of a significant part of the food we need every day, through their valuable service of pollination. According to a TEEB study, pollination services worldwide represent more than USD 150 billion and USD 213 million in Switzerland alone. Although there is a fair amount of uncertainty in these figures, the important role of wild and domestic bees is widely acknowledged. However, bees are more and more threatened by various factors including intensive agriculture and pesticides. It is thus important to invest resources to protect them.

A group of four friends, who are passionate about bees and the environment, created the non profit association mellifera, which supports the proliferation of bee colonies in the canton of Vaud, in Switzerland, through a social project.

I decided to sponsor a colony through this association, as a way to create a social impact to complement my consulting activities. It is also a way to share my passion for sustainability and to lead the talk on changing our society step by step. And, who does not love honey? Expect a surprise for our next in person meeting, subject to availability :-).

I decided to go a bit further and explore if my investment, mainly based on an emotional decision, was actually leading to a positive social impact. I used a methodology called “Total Impact Valuation” to measure the value of social, economic and natural capital created by Association mellifera’s activities.

Association mellifera’s colony sponsorship project is based on the following key activities:

  • More bees: create more bee colonies to support pollination in the region
  • Nature's conservation at the beehives’ site: enhance the biodiversity of the 4’000 m2 of land on which the associations’ colonies are located (the plot of land received a distinction for its biodiversity from the NGO Pro Natura).
  • Educational activities: Educate around 300 to 500 children per year with in-class presentations and on site interactive visits of a honey bee colony.
  • Hive purchase: the hives are bought from an institution supporting disabled persons and providing them with opportunities to build beehives, amongst other activities.
  • Honey production: the bees produce honey, which is a nutritious (and delicious) product. This year, each colony produced around 25 kg of honey, a very exceptional year!

Although Association mellifera creates social impact through other activities in addition to their sponsorship projects (such as booths in local markets, awareness raising activities, etc.), only the above mentioned activities are integrated in this study. The Total Impact Valuation methodology builds upon impact pathways developed for each identified activity, identifying input, output, outcomes and finally impacts. These impact pathways are extremely important and valuable in order to analyze how social impact is created. They also serve to identify key parameters and bottlenecks which are important to spot to ensure the optimization of the activities’ impact. Economic valuation techniques are then used to value the different impacts created, which can be prioritized based on a comparison. The final economic valuation is often not as important as the impact pathways analysis. Economic results have a high impact of awareness raising and engagement with a wide audience.

The results of my analysis show a positive societal value created ranging from 3’100 to 9’050 CHF per colony per year, the low and high estimates (as a point of comparison, each beehive produced honey of a gross value of 750 CHF). This means that the jar of honey I might hand you is worth, on average, 60 CHF per jar in terms of positive societal impact.

It turned out that my investment in a new colony led to a return on investment of 1:1.5 to 1:4.5 (for each CHF invested, a return on investment of 1.5 to 4.5 CHF is created in terms of social impact). Not bad! The details of the results are presented in the figure below.

I doubt other investments deliver such positive societal impact. As a point of comparison, investment in water and sanitation projects in developing countries delivers on average, according to the WHO, a 1:4 social return on investment (ROI). In one of my studies, I found the ROI for water projects higher than 1:500 for countries such as Haiti. Investing in carbon compensation would generate a ROI of 1:1.5 to 12 on average depending on the project, according to a Gold Standard study (although it could be much higher).

Pollination and educational activities contribute the most to the total societal value of a colony. Furthermore, educational activities have the highest potential for additional value in the future; recommendations have been provided to improve this value by focusing on the key parameters identified.

Measuring the potential impact you are creating through an activity or an investment is critical to support efficient decision-making. I am proud that association mellifera delivers such societal value through its activities and am pleased to share a jar of honey with my partners and clients.


Association mellifera is open to new sponsorships for 2016, both individual and company sponsorships: visit http://www.association-mellifera.ch/ (and receive your own honey in exchange, and more!)


If you would like to learn more about the Total Impact Valuation methodology, drop me a line!

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