Can natural markets benefit business and the environment?

On 28 September 2016, we hosted a panel discussion, in partnership with the National Trust, to discuss our new report proposing a new market for ecosystem services which benefits business and the environment.


  1. Our panel: Angela Francis, senior economist at Green Alliance, Steven Smith, technical director at AECOM, David Elliott, group strategy and new markets director at Wessex Water; and Chris Uttley, rural sustainable drainage project officer for Stroud District Council. The event was chaired by Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director at the National Trust.
  2. Angela Francis began the discussion by introducing Green Alliance and the National Trust's new report 'New markets for land and nature' and the Natural Infrastructure Scheme (NIS) it proposes.
  3. Steven Smith drew out lessons from Defra's Payment for Ecosystem Service pilots and pathfinders, noting that few beneficiaries have sufficient financial stake in the well-being of the natural environment. He said a farmer-led NIS could be game-changing if there were robust guarantees and standards for performance.
  4. David Elliott spoke about Wessex Water’s auction approach to water quality issues, emphasising the savings achieved with a local, business-to-business approach. He suggested that this could be integrated with the NIS mechanism, and that the opportunity to purchase ecosystem services would be welcomed by water companies.
  5. Finally, Chris Uttley shared Stroud District Council's experience of a small scale approach and its benefits, highlighting what can be achieved without payments to landowners and farmers.
  6. Patrick Begg opened the floor to audience questions.