Ecosystem Marketplace Officially Launches in London

Jan 1, 2001

On March 31st, 2005, the Ecosystem Marketplace sponsored by The Katoomba Group and Forest Trends was officially launched in London. Keynotes were delivered by Sir John Bond, Chairman of HSBC, Sir Win Bischoff, Chairman for Europe of Citigroup (view keynote speech [PDF]), and Hermann Mulder, Co-Head of Group Risk Management at ABN AMRO. A discussion on the past, present, and potential future of environmental markets followed, involving Robert Napier (WWF-UK), Jon Williams (HSBC), Steve Howard (The Climate Group), Dixon Harvey (Environmental Banc and Exchange, EBX), Byamukama Biryahwaho (EcoTrust, Uganda). The session was moderated by Mark Nicholls, editor of Environmental Finance. The fact that high-level representatives of three of the world's largest banks came together at the London headquarters of ABN-AMRO shows that some of the world's largest financial actors are now beginning to take environmental markets (the carbon market in particular) seriously. It also shows that the banking community sees issues of environment and environmental markets as an area for increasing collaboration. All banks are increasingly establishing environmental guidelines to direct their activities (lending in particular). For these banks — all three of which are core members of the group that put together the Equator Principles — the issue of environmental markets is interesting because of the potential for creating new business opportunities. ABN-AMRO's Mulder stated "There is a good business case," he said, "for banks and other businesses to become increasingly environmentally responsible." The panel discussion highlighted the fact that the advent of these new markets turns the issue of the environment into something of interest to all sectors of society: governments, NGOs, businesses, local communities, and others. Also, it was noted that environmental markets are more than just carbon and the concept can be applied to the protection of wetlands and species (as is being done in the US), to water, and to other ecosystem markets. The panelists agreed that for markets to work properly, the role of governments and government regulation is crucial. Most of the large environmental markets that exist, owe their existence to government regulations such as the Kyoto Protocol and the US Clean Water Act. Richard Burrett, Managing Director for Sustainable Development for ABN-AMRO, noted that the time has come for the increased use of environmental markets to achieve environmental ends, bringing the power of the market to the scale of the problem. ABN AMRO estimates that the total value of the carbon market in Europe alone will be EUR 45 billion by 2012, which, Burrett said, bodes well not only for financiers interested in these markets, but also for the interest these markets are likely to generate in the future. Michael Jenkins, President of Forest Trends, emphasized that since these new markets are early in formation there is a historic opportunity to ensure that real and significant conservation outcomes are delivered and that low-income communities, many of whom currently produce these ecosystem services, benefit from these new markets. Overall, there was a clear consensus that one thing that both markets and "environmental payment schemes" need in order to work properly is information; information on regulation, on prices, on who is doing what, and on regulatory systems that work and that don't work in particular situations. In short, the time is ripe for a service such as that being provided by the Ecosystem Marketplace. View media reports from the launch: