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Conservation Research Institute


CCI Conservation Seminar - Dr Sophus zu Ermgassen, University of Oxford

Making nature-markets work in the 21st century: lessons from Australia, England, and the EU

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There is a global biodiversity funding gap, and rapid efforts to mobilise private funding to fill this gap. Attempts to commodify biodiversity to create markets and harness return-seeking investment into conservation have now been practiced for half a century. What have we learned about how or whether private finance can become part of the solution, rather than a systemic driver, of biodiversity loss? In this talk I’ll give a tour of a few biodiversity markets we’ve studied in England and Australia and highlight what we’ve learned about how to make nature-markets work for nature. Then I’ll present work from an ongoing project interviewing high-level biodiversity finance professionals to work out how to scale up private investment in biodiversity in Europe whilst safeguarding its ecological and social outcomes. What is needed for private finance to contribute to, rather than undermine, the creation of an economy that thrives within the capacity of the living world?


I’m an ecological economist based at Oxford University’s Nature-positive Hub, specialising in biodiversity market-based instruments, infrastructure sustainability, biodiversity finance, biodiversity offsetting and ecological economics. I hold three ongoing expert advisory roles for the UK government: on Natural England’s Biodiversity Net Gain Monitoring and Evaluation expert advisory group; the UK Treasury’s Biodiversity Economics working group; and the International Advisory Panel on Biodiversity Credits. I was an expert contributor to the UK Environmental Audit Committee report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, and frequently contribute to policy reports by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. I’m co-host of the European Society for Ecological Economics podcast “Economics for Rebels”, in 2022 I was listed as one of the 100 most influential environmental professionals in the UK by newspaper the ENDS Report, and in 2023 was awarded the early career impact award by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council.

Wednesday, 12 June, 2024 - 12:00 to 13:00
Event location: 
Main Seminar Room, David Attenborough Building