Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV) can be defined as a process to make better-informed business decisions by explicitly valuing both ecosystem degradation and the EHQHÀWV provided by ecosystem services. By including ecosystem values, the company's aim is to improve corporate performance in relation to social and environmental goals and the financial bottom-line. Valuation can make decision- making around ecosystems more compelling and practical, thereby enhancing sustainable development strategies and outcomes.
Ecosystem services are the benefits people gain from the environment and biodiversity (i.e. the benefits that flow from natural capital). They include, among many others, water, crops, timber, flood protection, waste assimilation, carbon sequestration, recreation and spiritual benefits. All businesses depend and impact upon ecosystem services in some way.
The concept of ecosystem valuation is new to many businesses, even though it has developed significantly as a discipline over the past fifty or so years. It exists widely within numerous legal frameworks, including its application in the establishment of environmental liability and compensation. This is not, however, the only application of CEV, as the fourteen WBCSD member company road testers have demonstrated.
Ecosystem valuation is a complex topic with extensive jargon and rapidly evolving techniques. Although a multitude of related guidelines already exist, none cater directly for the needs of business. As companies start to show an interest in CEV, it is therefore essential to provide an approach that they can follow and rely upon, that is accepted by planners and decision-makers, and which has been developed through a process of close collaboration with businesses themselves. This is what this Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation aims to do.