Business urged to assess nature-related risks and opportunities

Montreux, April 17 2013 - Just how a company assesses, measures and values the natural resources it relies on every day can have major impacts on its bottom line, and presents significant opportunities for improving sustainability outcomes, according to a new report released today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The report, Eco4Biz - Ecosystem services and biodiversity tools to support business decision-making, encourages companies to explore the tools that can help them better incorporate nature into business decision-making.

“Assessing the impact and dependence on nature and natural capital may be complex, but it can also pay very good long-term dividends, both for the company bottom line and for our global environment, “ said Eva Zabey, WBCSD Manager, Ecosystems and Natural Capital.

The WBCSD’s Eco4Bizguide has been developed as a ‘one-stop resource kit’ to help environmental managers and companies navigate and choose from a range of available tools in order to better understand how they rely on nature, leading to more informed and better sustainability decisions. "Directly or indirectly, all companies rely on natural resources to help them produce goods and services,” said Zabey. “Forward-thinking companies are committing themselves to better understanding the impact that nature has on their bottom lines. They are also seeking better metrics into the risks and opportunities they face.”

Zabey said Eco4Biz was developed collaboratively, in partnership with both WBCSD member and non-member companies and many organizations,” Zabey said.  “We involved everyone from the original tool designers to NGOs, academic institutes, tool developers, and other business organizations to get the most accurate information on the tools available.” 

Eco4Biz features a decision tree, which helps cluster tools around the scale of assessment that an organization may need and the type of outputs the organization would prefer. Tools are identified as primarily focusing on either ecosystem services (such as provisioning, regulating and cultural services), or biodiversity. The toolkit will be updated on a regular basis to keep pace with developments as more companies proactively measure, manage and mitigate their impact and dependence on nature.

“We know we need to start at the beginning, by measuring our impact before we can take the next step of valuing these, mitigating risks or creating opportunities,” said Zabey.  “We must ask ourselves, which tools suit our needs? Is there a single answer or is a combination best? Which tools quantify or value our impact on natural capital and what's out there that has been used before, that actually works? These are the questions the WBCSD, natural capital experts and the tool developers themselves have tackled in this guide.”

Zabey called for companies to test the tools for themselves, contribute feedback and become better informed on how their businesses may be affected by natural capital. It will also help companies be more familiar with the challenges and terminology of incorporating nature in a business context. “Business involvement is crucial to moving this forward and ultimately having a standardized tool for companies to better report on natural capital.”

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