Private Sector Uptake of Ecosystem Services

March 7, 2013
  • Sissel Waage

    Former Manager, BSR

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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