Published: Thu, Nov 30, 2006
Type: Publication

Companies use ecosystem services, and that use alters the ecosystems and their ability to provide services. This publication discusses the challenges inherent in the use of ecosystem services and the implications for business.

Ecosystem Challenges and Business Implications warns that companies must transform business models and operations if they are to avoid major economic losses caused by the current degradation of ecosystems and the vital services they provide.

Produced by Earthwatch Institute (Europe), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the World Resources Institute (WRI), this publication is based on global scientific facts and projections from the UN's multi-year Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and interviews with a range of business leaders to assess the implications and strategies needed to respond to environmental challenges.

The research indicates that many companies recognise the risks associated with degrading ecosystems and are trying to adapt accordingly, but most fail to associate healthy ecosystems with their business interests. A collective business response is therefore needed to address the scale of environmental change currently taking place.

This issues brief offers a detailed examination of the implications that water scarcity, climate change, nutrient overloading, biodiversity loss, habitat change and the overexploitation of oceans will have for the future of business. These include scarcity of raw materials, higher operating costs, government restrictions and reduced flexibility. It further cautions companies to prepare for these risks by measuring their impact and dependence on ecosystem services, taking advantage of emerging business opportunities and reducing their operational footprints.

The publication partners urge companies to pursue solutions that will help to conserve ecosystems, such as new energy efficient technologies and products, new businesses to undertake habitat restoration, and new markets, such as nutrient trading.

This is the first of three publications to be produced by the four partners. The second will focus upon how new business models, markets and entrepreneurs can profit from responding to ecosystem challenges and the third will help business executives identify their dependences on ecosystem