|Business & Ecosystems Initiative
The world's ecosystems provide many critical services on which businesses and economies rely. Beverage manufacturers, water bottling companies and hydro-electric power companies depend on regular flows of water; timber companies rely on soil fertility; tourism is often based on nature’s beauty, and insurance companies benefit from natural hazard protection provided by ecosystems, such as flood control.
Until recently, most enterprises had taken these services for granted. Business people expect that there will be sufficient clean water for operations; that raw materials will continue to flow in predictable patterns; that transport will not be unduly interrupted by extreme weather; and that workers will have healthy air to breathe. However, the most far-reaching ecological study ever undertaken by over 1,300 scientists around the world—the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment—found that 60 to 70 percent of these functions are being degraded faster than they can recover.
Accordingly, there has been increasing awareness of ecosystem services and growing interest in mechanisms to pay for the maintenance of these services. The role of businesses in engaging with this work includes the potential of becoming both buyers and sellers of ecosystem services, which are deals focused on supporting the restoration and maintenance of ecosystem function on which businesses depend.
Current Resources for the East and Southern Africa Business & Ecosystems Initiative