The Price of “Living Nature”: Ralph Chami, Assistant Director of the International Monetary Fund

How do you put a price tag on a blue whale? According to Ralph Chami, Assistant Director for the International Monetary Fund, it’s worth around $2 million, if not more. But how does that translate to real-world economics, with wide-reaching implications for business success? In this episode, he explains how an unusual encounter motivated him to explore the nexus of sustainability and profit in the hopes of creating a “nature-based” economy. He tells us how businesses can spearhead the creation of markets that serve nature and its restoration in ways that solve for the climate crisis. And what the future of business can look like so humanity and nature work together to reward investors and stewards of the planet alike.

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Ralph Chami:

Ralph Chami is an Assistant Director at the IMF. He is currently on sabbatical from the IMF working on tackling the two risks to humanity–climate change and biodiversity loss. He has developed a model for valuing natural capital, including blue and green nature as well as flora and fauna, and a framework for developing the natural capital markets for ecosystem services. He has co-founded two entities working on bringing this new paradigm to life–Rebalance Earth and Blue Green Future that are engaged in realizing the value of the natural world to our well-being and integrating it into our economic system. He has co-authored a number of peer-reviewed publications that value the carbon sequestration service of keystone species such as the Great Whales and Elephants. His work on valuing natural capital has been featured at TED 2022, TEDEx2022 Fiesole, UN, and in National Geographic, Financial Times, Washington Post, WEF, among others.

During his 24-year career at the IMF, he has been known as an expert on fragile states and low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). He oversaw surveillance for 32 countries in MENA and Central Asia, and program work in Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen, and was Mission Chief for Libya and Somalia. Prior to joining the IMF, he was on the faculty of finance at the Mendoza School of Business, University of Notre Dame, IN, USA. Ralph has PhD in Economics from the Johns Hopkins University, MBA from University of Kansas, and BS from the American University of Beirut.



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