Responding to the Biodiversity Challenge

Published: 26 Jan 2010
Type: Publication

Business and ecosystem services are inextricably linked.

Corporations not only impact ecosystems and the services they provide, but also depend upon them. For instance, freshwater is a critical input for every conceivable major industrial process; the pharmaceutical industry benefits from genetic resources; agribusiness and the food sector depend on ecosystem services like pollination, pest and erosion regulation; forest industries – and the downstream construction, communications and packaging sectors – rely on continued supplies of timber and wood fiber; all extractive industries cause some level of ecosystem disturbance; whilst tourism increasingly builds on an ecosystem’s cultural services and aesthetic values; all building owners and plant operators benefit from the natural hazard regulation service that some ecosystems provide. In fact, it is hard to think of any economic activity that does not benefit from ecosystem services or, in some way, alter the ecosystems around it.

Ecosystems degradation will affect how business operates

However, in the past 50 years, human activity has altered ecosystems faster and more extensively than ever before. This is unfortunate, as the degradation of ecosystems and the services they provide destroys business value and limits future growth opportunities. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation come at a price, which has been estimated to be between Euro 1.35 trillion and Euro 3.10 trillion each and every year. Business cannot function if the ecosystem services it relies on are degraded or out of balance, and there is a need to recognize the full value of ecosystems and their services in order to ensure their sustainable use.

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