I’ve noticed a rise lately in the frequency of times I see the name PricewaterhouseCoopers pop up in research about ecosystem services and economics.   Most recently they have produced a series of reports with the United Nations Development Program on habitat banking in Latin America and the Carribean.  Habitat banking is an ecosystem service market in which habitat “developers” protect or restore ecosystems to generate credits that can be bought by other developers as part of a requirement to mitigate damage caused by construction projects.  PwC’s reports evaluate the benefits of such systems and barriers to to implementation in eight countries.   They should be required reading for anyone getting involved in such schemes in Latin America.

That’s not all PwC has been up to, though.  It appears that PwC have been major contributors to the business sector portion of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study, and did most of the heavy lifting on Ceres’ recent report on water-related risks in the bond market.

PwC isn’t entirely new to environmental work.  They also just published their 4th annual survey on the state of sustainability reporting, and I when I worked in consulting one would occasionally encounter their stamp as an auditor of corporate greenhouse gas accounting.  It  seems that now they’re investing in becoming a major knowledge provider in the ecosystem services market.  

This makes a lot of sense.  PwC’s bread and butter is accounting, and someone will have to audit the transactions of emerging habitat banking markets.   McKinsey & Co., another big consultancy, followed a similar strategy on climate change.   They published a series of influential reports on the cost of carbon mitigation technologies in the mid-2000s, and established a foothold in international carbon trading by partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative’s program in climate and forestry.  (Full disclosure: I played a very minor role providing outside feedback on a McKinsey/CGI’s forestry report).  Now McKinsey gets paid to craft whole government strategies for international climate negotiations.

I think this is a good sign.  If PwC is investing in this field, it’s a sign that ecosystem services and biodiversity are on the minds of their clients.