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Sissel Waage , Director, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Publication Date

March 7, 2013

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Private Sector Uptake of Ecosystem Services

Sissel Waage, Director, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, BSR

Thirty-five companies now mention ecosystem services in publicly available materials: Corporate engagement with the issues is clearly on the rise.

In a new report, BSR explores the landscape of ecosystem services work within companies, which covers a wide spectrum.

Some companies have crafted corporate policies to have no net, or net positive, impact on ecosystems or ecosystem services. Other businesses are exploring the issues and pilot-testing analytical tools. Others simply state that they recognize the importance of ecosystem services.

Analysis of this corporate engagement with ecosystem services reveals a few emerging trends, as described in BSR’s report, including:

  • A business case for action on ecosystem services is emerging within some industries.
  • Corporate applications of ecosystem services concepts span the gamut of business decision types—from governance to strategy to operations.

  • Moving from ecosystem services concepts to action remains a challenge, due to relatively little publicly available information on corporate testing of effective approaches and tools.
  • Many corporate managers’ preliminary conclusions about ecosystem services assessments are that they generate insights, particularly around business dependencies that may be at risk within a changing climate.

Overall, private-sector experience with ecosystem services concepts and analytical tools remains emergent. Ideally, companies should share future work so that corporate decision-makers can draw from a growing body of experience on applying ecosystem services. Hopefully, more systematic examination of ecosystem services impacts and dependencies will spark innovation and effective on-the-ground action to maintain and restore the natural infrastructure upon which we all rely.

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About the Author(s)

Sissel Waage , Director, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

With more than 20 years of experience working on sustainability issues in North America, Europe, and Africa, Sissel advises companies and leads BSR’s Ecosystem Services Working Group... Read more →