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Asia's Dragon Capital Fires Up Biodiversity Debate

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 5 July 2019

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The economics of biodiversity examines if there's a robust link between the economy and health of the planet. Asia-focused investment house Dragon Capital is supporting a UK-based academic post that covers this topic.

Dragon Capital, which also recently celebrated 25 years of investing in Vietnam, has created a "biodiversity economics" academic post at the University of Exeter in the UK. The move is an example of how wealth managers are tapping into public concerns about the environment.

The Dragon Capital Chair in Biodiversity Economics will chart the link between biodiversity and economic performance, Dragon said in a statement yesterday.

Biodiversity is defined as the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat. A high level of diversity is usually regarded as desirable both as an end in itself and because it contributes to a more robust environment.

The move taps into how environmental, social and governance-themed investment ideas, or ESG, is an increasingly popular and talked-about area in wealth management.

Over the next five years, Dragon Capital and the University of Exeter will together commit £1.6 million to fund the new academic post.

"The research will bridge and unite both economics and ecology, to improve understanding of their interdependency and identify strategies which are both positive for biodiversity and provide incentives for action by business and individuals," Dragon said.

The programme will cover developed and developing countries, with a particular interest in the UK and in Southeast Asia (especially Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bhutan). The research will also influence intergovernmental bodies such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the design of economic incentives that allow businesses to pursue biodiversity investments legitimately while upholding fiduciary duties.

“How can markets price the absence of birdsong? How much are people willing to pay to maintain the existence of, or be compensated for the loss of, biodiversity in all its forms? It has never been more important for businesses and individuals to understand the impact they are making on society to ensure the conservation of our planet," Dominic Scriven, executive chairman and co-founder of Dragon Capital, said.

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