Session Information

Valuing Nature: The Business Case and Innovative Methods for Eco-Asset Management

Date: Wednesday, March 2

Time: 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Format: SPARK Talk

A growing group of business, community, and organizational leaders now recognize that protecting, enhancing, and restoring natural capital is essential to business success, sustainable economies, and high quality of life. This session will showcase leading strategies for optimizing the value of natural capital, and will spotlight how business decisions impact natural capital assets and, in turn, organizations and stakeholders. Emerge with a compelling, up-to-date understanding of the links between natural capital protection and the bottom line. 

Topic Speakers

James is the CEO and founder of NatureBank Asset Management and its subsdiary companies. He has over 20 years experience in environmental consulting and climate change. He is responsible for the overall strategy and direction of the company.

He is also an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and is the Executive Director of S3i, a Research Centre at the Sauder School of Business dedicated to social innovation and sustainability. He has taught in MBA, EMBA, Executive Education, MSc and Undergraduate programs in the UK and Canada. Following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, James was selected as one of four international advisers working with the United Nations Environment Programme on the environmental strategy for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

James has worked as an advisor and contributor to the World Economic Forum, the UK National Audit Office, Oxford Analytica, Cisco, ISIS Innovation (Oxford), Environment Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Research by James covers a number of areas, including the social impacts and acceptability of new technologies, industrial ecology and scenario methods. More recently, his research has focused on emerging international markets for carbon, clean technology policy and ecosystem services.

James received his PhD from the University of East Anglia in 1999. After a number of years in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at UBC, he returned to the UK as a lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, where he was also deputy director of the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization.

In 2010, James was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 by Business in Vancouver and was a Pacific finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2010 Awards. Most recently, in February 2013, James was one of 75 British Columbians honoured by Premier Christy Clark with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his environmental contributions to the province of BC.


Since 2008, Karen Clarke-Whistler has been the Chief Environment Officer of TD Bank Group (TD). In this role, Karen isresponsible for developing TD’s environmental strategy, which has enabled it to differentiate itself by embedding an environmental perspective throughout the bank’s business operations. This approach has been key to TD’s rise to the top of the league tables for environmental performance in the North American banking sector.

In recognizing that environmental quality is a fundamental driver of economic success, Karen is able to provide a unique perspective to the business world that is driven by opportunity over risk.

Under Karen’s leadership TD became the first North American based bank to be carbon neutral. Learnings from this program were leveraged to implement initiatives aimed at reducing energy use in TD’s facilities and business operations, financing products and investments.

Karen’s open door policy with environmental groups has promoted dialogue on and solutions to many challenging issues and offers a refreshing change to traditional and more confrontational approaches.

Karen is an environmental scientist who is widely recognized as a thought leader in environmental business matters. Prior to joining TD, she spent more than 15 years working as an environmental consultant to a diverse base of clients in North and South America, Europe and Africa.

Karen was recognized as one of the 2012 Clean50 (50 individuals honoured for their outstanding contribution to clean capitalism), and one of the 2014 Clean16 (national leader in their sector). She advises or serves on the Boards of Directors of a number of groups, including, the Boreal Leadership Council, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, Sustainability CoLab, and Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE).

Karen holds a master’s degree in land resource science from Canada’s University of Guelph and a bachelor’s degree in ecology from the University of Toronto.

Karen lives in Toronto.