Over the last few days, experts in fields from neuroscience to music to energy came together to share ideas at the TEDGlobal 2011 conference. With Shell one of the conference sponsors, there was extensive discussion of the energy sector and the industry’s future.

Among the speakers was Pavan Sukhdev, an energy economist who worked at Deutsche Bank for 15 years before writing a groundbreaking report, The Economies of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.” Sukhdev chairs the Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity and Ecosystems for the World Economic Forum.

He spoke on the economic risks that are associated with increasing loss of biodiversity in ecosystems around the world. The rate that humans are consuming biomass, he told the audience at the conference, is not sustainable.

Companies must take overall long-term costs of using various natural resources into account, he said. Long term measurement would show that this is actually a more financially successful strategy. But, he noted, companies may not always see direct economic benefit from protecting ecosystems.

“Will economics save everything,” he asked rhetorically. “Well, I’m afraid not.” But it may be that these factors should be taken into account anyway.

“Mother Nature only has that [limited] much in ecological infrastructure and that much natural capital,” Sukhdev said.

Human populations are only growing as biodiversity and resources are diminishing, the conference indicated; at the same time, governments are beginning to cap carbon emissions. Questions remain how will energy producers and consumers will keep up with the changes.

In the video link below, Shell VP of CO2 Policy, John MacArthur explains what he learned from the conference and where he thinks the focus needs to be for the future.

Watch it here.

Photo Caption: Congolese Fazila Sumbuni sells fish and chicken at her stall in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s south-east Kivu province on July 8, 2011.