Four Steps for the Earth: becoming ‘nature-positive’ by 2030

Postdoctoral researcher

Sophus zu Ermgassen


I am an ecological economist specialising in biodiversity finance, nature-positive organisations, infrastructure sustainability, sustainable finance, biodiversity offsetting and ecological economics. My academic research features regularly in popular media including the Guardian, BBC Countryfile, the Times, Sky News, the Financial Times and the ENDS report. I currently hold three ongoing expert advisory roles for the UK government: on Natural England’s Biodiversity Net Gain Monitoring and Evaluation expert advisory group; the UK Treasury’s Biodiversity Economics working group; and I am an expert advisor to the International Advisory Panel on Biodiversity Credits. I was an expert contributor to the 2022 UK Environmental Audit Committee report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology POSTBrief on ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’, and POSTnotes on biodiversity offsetting and just sustainability transitions. I also work as a freelance consultant, including hosting seminars and advising multilateral development institutions and companies on biodiversity net gain, biodiversity offset policy, nature-positive strategy and biodiversity safeguards. I lecture on Masters programmes at the University of Oxford, Surrey, and Imperial as well as Oxford University executive education and school access programmes, and co-supervise 5 PhD and Masters researchers. I’m co-host of the European Society for Ecological Economics podcast “Economics for Rebels”. I was named as one of the 100 most influential environmental professionals in the UK by newspaper the ENDS Report in 2022, and won the UKRI Natural Environment Research Council’s early career policy impact award in 2023.

My Postdoc is funded by EU Horizon 2020 project “SUPERB”, focusing on understanding and evaluating the mechanisms for financing the restoration of ecosystems across Europe. I also assist the biodiversity and scenario modelling work packages for the Agile Sprint project: Operationalising Treasury Green Book Guidance on biodiversity.

Research Interests

Ecological economics, infrastructure sustainability, public policy, impact evaluation, postgrowth economics, biodiversity finance, corporate biodiversity measurement and reporting, biodiversity offsetting, Biodiversity Net Gain, ecological mitigation, sand and construction minerals.

Brief CV


(2018-2022) Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent – PhD. Awarded University Postgraduate award for most outstanding Postgraduate

(2016 – 2017) University of Edinburgh – Ecological Economics (MSc) – Distinction (top of class)

(2014 – 2015) Judge Business School, University of Cambridge – Management Studies (MA) – class 2.1

(2011 – 2014) University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam College, Donald Walker Scholarship – Zoology (MA) – class 1.


Work experience

Freelance sustainability consultant (2019-onwards)

UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology POST Fellow (2020)

Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, PhD scholar (2018-2022)

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Leipzig, Research Assistant (2018)

The Nature Conservancy, Research Assistant (part-time 2014-2018)

AECOM, Environmental Economist (2016)

OC&C Strategy Consultants, Consultant (2015)

Published papers

A full list of my research publications can be found at my Google Scholar page: