Following the release last week of Tony Juniper's new book 'What has nature ever done for us?', I have been reflecting on this question from a project management perspective. Here I argue that project managers should consider the contribution of the natural environment to projects, alongside the projects impact on nature. In doing so project managers can reduce risk, increase efficiently and gain competitive advantage. 

The issue of the value of the natural environment to the economy has been debated for many years, however recently the topic seems to have undergone something of a revival. In the UK much of this debate stems comments over the last year by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne that suggest that environmental sustainability and economic growth are not compatible. The truth we simply cannot exist as a species and as a society let alone an economy without the services that the natural environment provides. A classic example of this relationship is shown in the Figure below where the economy is seen as a subset of society and the environment and is dependent upon them. AS James Lovelock reminds us, human society depends on the environment although in contrast the environment would continue without society...