Thirty-five companies, including AkzoNobel, PUMA, BP, Disney, Coca-Cola and Hitachi, now mention ecosystem services in publicly available materials. Corporate engagement with the issues is clearly on the rise, as documented in a new report from BSR.
This private sector work on ecosystem services covers a wide spectrum. Some companies have crafted corporate policies to have "no net impact" or "net positive impact" on ecosystems or ecosystem services. Other businesses are exploring the issues and pilot testing analytical tools. Some simply state that they recognize the importance of ecosystem services.
Analysis of corporate engagement with this emerging domain, which is conceptually linked to natural capital, reveals a few trends.
Trend 1: A business case for action on ecosystem services is emerging within some industries.
Within some companies in select industries, such as oil and gas, mining, chemicals, entertainment and tourism, there is now a business case for exploring, and in some cases taking action on, ecosystem services issues based on:
• Investors' inclusion of ecosystem services in due diligence processes, such as the World Bank's International Finance Corp. and the 79 Equator Banks.
• National governments' growing attention to the issues, around the world, as documented in a 2013 BSR report.
• Internal corporate culture of sector leadership and the desire to maintain a leading position within their industry on all issues, particularly emerging domains.
Overall, a growing number of corporate representatives state that they see biodiversity and ecosystem services as their next set of issues to address, following on, and related to, carbon and water.
Trend 2: Corporate applications of ecosystem services concepts span the gamut of business decision types, from governance through strategy and operations.
The span of corporate efforts related to ecosystem services is quite broad. A sampling of the different ecosystem services applications that companies are exploring includes:
Note: Please see research report for details.
Next page: From concept to action