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Finance overlooks climate because it's ‘mesmerized by the magic of markets’: WWF International President

In this article:
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WWF International President Pavan Sukhdev joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss ESG investing and Wall Street's effort on climate change.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: I mean, you sort of have your foot, obviously, in the world of finance, and then obviously in the environment, as well. So what are the one things-- or what are some of the things that each side doesn't understand about each other?

PAVAN SUKHDEV: I'd say that the world of finance is only just beginning to understand two things, actually. One is the nature of value, and the other is the value of nature. And let me just spend a moment commenting on each.

The nature of value financiers, including, sorry, myself, when I was younger, would focus on economic value, but not realize that financial capital, produced capital is actually one of four capitals-- natural, human, social and financial capitals. So there is this tendency in the world of finance to think only of the capital that you are most involved in on a day-to-day basis, which is financial capital. So that is, in understanding the nature of value, please understand that there are values, four other kinds-- there are three other kinds of capital, as well.

And the second is the sheer size of the value that nature delivers to the economy. There's some work done by the World Economic Forum recently that published that something like $44 trillion of economic value come to the economy from nature, directly and indirectly. And that's not-- that does not surprise me because we keep forgetting how much is delivered for free, but which is still valuable because nobody has put in the effort to recognize the economic value of what's delivered.

It can be intermediate value addition in the GDP calculus. It can be just totally invisible, if it's directly-- you know, if it's your enjoyment of the beautiful forest that you are in Maine, yeah, you'd pay for being there. You probably are paying for being there. And it's something that is delivered by the forest for free.

ANDY SERWER: Right.

PAVAN SUKHDEV: So there's value in all of these deliveries of benefits, which don't transact in a marketplace. Just because they don't transact in the marketplace, our tendency is to ignore them because we are so fixated, we are so mesmerized by the magic of markets. And by the way, this is an ex markets person saying this to you. Right? So we are so mesmerized by the magic of markets that we keep forgetting that there's value elsewhere, as well.