This article looks into the ecosystem services concept and its relation to businesses. The ecosystem services concept emerged out of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which ran from 2001-2005.
This was the largest audit ever conducted of the state of the world’s ecosystems. The study which involved thousands of researchers from around the world painted a stark picture of decline across the world’s ecosystems in the previous 50 years.
Their research revealed that 15 out of the 24 ecosystems they evaluated had been degraded.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. The emergence of the ecosystem services framework is a major outcome of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
A simple definition of ecosystem services, is that they are the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems.
Businesses make use of ecosystem services in a variety of ways depending upon their business model and the type of sector that they operate in.
But what is clear, is that all businesses to a greater or lesser degree depend on ecosystem services. This is interesting because businesses are contributing to ecosystem degradation, which leads to a decline in quantity and quality of these ecosystem services.
If markets were functioning correctly. This would not be happening. Businesses therefore are falling to make the connection between healthy ecosystems, ecosystem services and their bottom line.
There are some businesses like Puma who have gone very public with their commitment to environmental profit and loss accounting. But I would say that on the whole ecosystem services do not get the attention they deserve in the business community.
What you need to know
This article looked into the ecosystem services concept and its relation to businesses.
We looked into the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the ecosystem services framework which emerged out of it.
We looked into how businesses depend on but degrade ecosystem services, but are also well placed to support them.
Unfortunately, there is yet to be a breakthrough of the ecosystem services framework by businesses.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
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