Tony Simons, director general of the World Agroforestry Centre, delivers a presentation at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany in December.

Balancing the books: Financial smarts can restore planet Earth

Earthling tenants must become intergenerational land stewards

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — Imagine what would happen if a real estate agent put planet Earth up for sale.

A potential buyer aiming to turn the planet into a profitable company would discover current financial accounting does not add up, and that the value of Earth is misrepresented, said Tony Simons, director general of the World Agroforestry Centre.

For example, land prices generally increase over time despite human activities that lead to degradation, Simons said during a talk at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany.

“Land typically doesn’t have any depreciation attached to it, but the way we manage our planet, it really should,” he said, adding that although revenues related to land use are recorded, costs are fraudulently understated because the actual price of doing business on the land is not accurately measured.

“The costs of agriculture are three to five times the revenue,” Simons said. “We’re making a loss farming the planet and yet we carry on doing it because it’s what we know best — or think we know best.”

Land management must be reframed and the 7.5 billion resident “tenants” living on the planet must ensure restoration policies provide real incentives because they make economic sense, he said.

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