Trend 3: Moving from ecosystem services concept to action remains a challenge, due to relatively little publicly available information on corporate testing of effective approaches and tools.
Once a company has determined that ecosystem services warrant additional focus, the question becomes how to apply ecosystem services concepts and decision-making aids. At this stage, companies ask: How can we make better capital decisions, enable more efficient operations, manage risk and address customer needs by applying ecosystem services analytical approaches and tools?
The challenge facing corporate managers is the lack of widely agreed-upon, coherent guidelines on specific indicators to track, measure and assess ecosystem services impacts and dependencies -- ideally in a way that meshes with existing corporate environmental assessment processes and protocols (e.g., ESIAs, LCAs, etc.). In addition, the private sector lacks direction on how to consider trade-offs and how to factor in stakeholder requests to prioritize some ecosystem services over others, particularly in cases where key stakeholders disagree about priorities. Specific, private-sector-tailored operational guidance is still very much in development as the field's business applications continue to emerge.
In response to these gaps, more and more players have stepped into the arena. For example, IPIECA has developed detailed checklists for ecosystem services issues during various stages of an oil and gas project's lifecycle. The World Resources Institute is creating an approach for integrating ecosystem services into impact assessments. The IFC is working on the details of applying its performance standards related to ecosystem services, including PS6, which also is now integrated into the due diligence processes of banks that have adopted the Equator Principles.
Academics, environmental consulting firms, multilateral organizations and other NGOs have developed numerous tools for use in decision-making processes. (For details on metrics and tools, please see BSR's 2013 report, "Measuring and Managing Corporate Performance in an Era of Expanded Disclosure: A Review of the Emerging Domain of Ecosystem Services Tools.")
Ultimately, the key to integrating ecosystem services into environmental management will be demonstrating how this work contributes to project managers' goals of delivering projects on time and in budget, with as little risk as possible. The easier it is for companies to integrate new measures or approaches into existing processes, the more likely that it will occur.
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