The Tyler Prize is honored to recognize two remarkable individuals, both pioneers in illuminating and quantifying the economic value of our natural environment. Conservation Biologist Gretchen C. Daily, and Environmental Economist Pavan Sukhdev. Each have trailblazed the valuing of natural capital – in rigorous scientific and economic terms – recognizing nature’s vital role in supporting human wellbeing.
Dr. Gretchen C. Daily
Named as one of the ’50 Most Important Women in Science’, Dr. Gretchen C. Daily has changed the landscape of conservation biology.
She is currently the Bing Professor of Environmental Science in the Department of Biology at Stanford University, with joint appointments as the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford, and as a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Daily is credited with pioneering the field of Countryside Biogeography, which she describes as “a new conceptual framework for elucidating the fates of populations, species, and ecosystems in ‘countryside’ – the growing fraction of Earth’s unbuilt land surface whose ecosystem qualities are strongly influenced by humanity.” Her research attempts to determine what “species are most important and most merit protection” and “what is the scientific basis for deciding” the relative importance of species within a given ecosystem.
One of Daily’s five books, ‘Nature’s Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems’ has been hailed, “one of the most influential books published on the environment in the past 30 years.” The introduction describes the concept of ecosystem services. The book then shares papers by esteemed environmental scientists regarding topics such as services provided by soil, pollinators, marine ecosystems, and forest ecosystems.
In 2005 Daily, together with partners from The Nature Conservancy, the University of Minnesota, and the World Wildlife Fund, established the Natural Capital Project. The organization’s objective is to improve the well-being of all people and nature by motivating greater and more targeted natural capital investments. Together they have developed
InVEST – a suite of free, open-source software models used to map and value the goods and services from nature that sustain and fulfil human life. In essence, it is a tool for balancing the environmental and economic goals for governments, non-profits, international lending institutions, and corporations.
Prof. Daily’s list of awards is impressively long. She received the 2018 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Ecology and Conservation Biology, jointly with Georgina Mace for developing vital tools facilitating science-based policies “to combat species loss.” Other significant recent awards include the Blue Planet Prize (2017), the Volvo Environment Prize (2012), and the Midori Prize (2010).
Daily undertook both her Bachelor and Masters of Biological Sciences at Stanford University before earning her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Stanford University as well. She is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, as well as a board member at the Beijer Institute for Ecological Economics and the Nature Conservancy.
Mr. Pavan Sukhdev
Traditionally trained and experienced in global financial markets, it was his personal passion for sustainable development and nature conservation that has led to some truly remarkable work towards understanding the value of nature.
In his career as an international banker, Mr. Sukhdev helped shape economies all over the world. He worked with the Australian and New Zealand Banking group for 11 years, and Deutsche Bank for 14 years, where he is most known for his involvement in the evolution of India’s currency, interest rate and derivatives markets. With decades of experience in leading economics positions all over the globe, Sukhdev went on to lead several celebrated projects and firmly establish the regime of green economics within broader economic theory.
In 2008, he was called upon by Germany’s Environment Minister to lead the G8+5 study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). The Interim Report was welcomed globally for demonstrating the economic significance of the loss of nature’s services, and for connecting the economics of biodiversity and ecosystems with ethics, equity, and the alleviation of poverty. The final TEEB report suite had over 550 authors and reviewers from all continents, bringing to bear unprecedented focus on the economic and social importance of ecosystem services, as well as the true costs of their loss which is hidden by economic invisibility.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) then appointed Sukhdev to lead its major initiative, the Green Economy Initiative, to demonstrate that the greening of economies is not a burden on growth but rather a new engine for growth, a source of new employment, and a means to poverty alleviation. Sukhdev continues to support this initiative as a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador.
Importantly, Sukhdev is helping real-world implementation of his own research-based recommendations, through the founding of GIST Advisory in 2011. GIST Advisory demonstrates and helps corporations and governments pilot the strategies and new methods & metrics outlined by TEEB, the Green Economy Initiative, and his book Corporation 2020. The vision of GIST Advisory is a ‘smart tomorrow’, ‘beyond GDP and profits’ and ‘a world nurtured by a green and equitable economy of permanence’.
The Tyler Prize is the latest in Sukhdev’s string of recent awards, having been the joint winner of the Asahi Glass Foundation “Blue Planet Prize” in 2016, and the KfW Foundation “Bernhard Grzimek Award for Biodiversity” in 2015.
Sukhdev currently serves the World Wildlife Fund as President and Chairman of the Board, as well as Board Member for TEEB Advisory Board, Stockholm Resilience Centre, and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.
See the virtual celebration and conversation with our 2020 Laureates, Gretchen Daily, and Pavan Sukhdev held on June 3, 2021. Watch it here or on our YouTube channel here 2021 Award Celebration.
Photo Credits: Gretchen Daily Photos by Ola Hopper, Pavan Sukhdev Photos by Leonardo Druscovich
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