The scale of loss resulting from the Gulf oil spill and the formidable costs of liabilities has stimulated demands for rethinking our values and how they are integrated in key decision making.

Recent experience in oil spill risk assessments will be presented to highlight the criticality of smart stewardship of environmental capital and services by responsible governments dealing with energy development in biodiverse and sensitive coastal zones.

All too often the $ value of ecosystem services are only recognized when their functions are lost and have to be replaced e.g. excavation of coral reefs which protect islands for construction material- which has to be later replaced by concrete coastal barriers or removal of mangroves for coastal development with consequential increases in erosion and decline in fish populations and diversity.

Initial steps in paying for ecosystem services have been made through paying landowners to manage land to reduce flood risk or maintain downstream water quality and in carbon sequestration(under the clean development mechanism)provide a conceptual template for the future. At a global level, attempts have been made to place a $ value on the worlds natural capital and ecosystem life support services. These values need to be incorporated in today's oil spill contingency planning and protection priorities.

A critique of cutting edge formulae for placing ecosystems services on the balance sheet of the public and private sectors, and also the benefits of biodiversity offsets, will be presented. A pioneering approach to how these can be applied in due diligence of investments and oil spill risk assessments over the life cycle of oil and gas developments will be presented. In the future capturing ecosystem services in strategic tradeoffs and decision making in new concessions, oil spill contingency planning, and cumulative effects of long term production water discharges will be on the agenda of governments developing energy resources. Impairment or damage to ecosystem services will have to be paid for in line with the polluter pays principle.

This approach will establish a fundamental benchmark in visible corporate social responsibility in addressing stakeholder values future oil spill emergencies.

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