Making Money from the Environment

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Biodiversity and some of the business issues connected with the topic. One of them is the business potential of people’s interest in environmental sustainability and biodiversity.

The Media Business

Media AMP
Media AMP

Last week, I was in New York for the first module of this year’s edition of the Advanced Management Program for Media & Entertainment and spent the week with media executives form all over the world. One way to make money from people’s interest is to build a media business around it such as the Mother Nature Network, a for profit website founded by Joel Babbit, and advertising executive and Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band.

Babbit raised $ 6 million to start the project four years ago and is now reportedly enjoying over 7 million visits per month and making a profit. The web site has 8 different channels and a list of blue chip sponsors including Johnson & Johnson, Mercedes-Benz, and Coca Cola. Babbit’s concept, which is laid out in an article in Inc. is to tell stories for normal people and to get sponsors to pay for entire sections of content. The key, apparently, is that the sponsors have no editorial control and Babbit has assembled a first class team of environmental reporters and columnists.

The Consulting & Auditing Business

Another web site, Environmental Leader, which targets environmental professionals, estimates the the global environmental consulting sector, including biodiversity, will reach over 30 billion dollars in the next five years. Companies need help in knowing where they are and what they need to do and there is no shortage of firms ready and willing and able to help. These firms also have no trouble attracting e is also outstanding young men and women with advanced degrees in science, engineering, and business who are eager to do something useful and get paid for it.


Sustainable Brands, which runs its own web site, disseminates information and holds events around the world (including at IESE), show that 77% of american consumers consider the sustainability of the food they eat and there is broad interest in the marketing community to find ways to put environmentally friendly messaging into the marketing mix for a wide variety of products and services in the U.S. and around the world.


Reducing the environmental footprint of human activity on the Earth and its bio-sphere has been the topic of earlier posts in this space and is an enormous business with a large number of sub-sectors in energy such as energy improving energy efficiency , solar, wind, geo-thermal as well as other part of the story such as water and sanitation, ecological farming, low impact landscaping and ecological cars, appliances, data centers, etc.

Terraforming & Geo-Engineering

Oxford University defines GeoEngineering as the “deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change”. The topic will be explored in more depth in subsequent posts but has the potential to be a very, very big business some time in the future.

img_4010Terraforming is a more modest activity but also is an opportunity as communities realize that people need access to nature and that cities can be rebuilt to incorporate more biodiversity.  Last week, I went jogging a couple of times in New York’s Central Park which has been improving the life of New Yorkers since 1857. New York has 28,000 acres (11,300 Hectares) of parks and there is ample evidence that they make people happier and healthier. As urban development has spread across the world, I believe park building and managing the biodiversity of the parkland will be a growth industry in the years ahead.