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The Foundational Role of the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review in the Development of the Natural Capital Protocol

August 09, 2016 |

The Natural Capital Coalition (The Coalition) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) both recognize the importance of including ecosystems in corporate decision making. Working with many others, they have developed the Natural Capital Protocol and the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review (CESR) respectively for business and others to use to do this.

The CESR was first released in 2008 with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Meridian Institute and is widely used by companies around the globe, including Danone, Walmart, Cemex, Mondi, and Akzo Nobel. It was updated in 2012 to incorporate feedback from users and reference developments that emerged since the first edition.

The Natural Capital Protocol intentionally builds on a number of both publically available and propriety approaches that already exist. It does not intend to create something new, but instead to harmonize existing best practice and get this to scale. The Protocol was developed by a collaboration of 38 organizations, with hundreds more contributing through piloting and consultation.

As the first set of “guidelines for companies to identify business risks and opportunities arising from ecosystem change”, the CESR provides one of the foundational and sources of inspiration for the Natural Capital Protocol.

The Protocol has in particular leveraged the CESR by:

  • Highlighting the importance and relevance of ecosystem services to business both as a risk and an opportunity
  • Focusing on the dependencies and impacts on ecosystem services
  • Presenting the logical steps of an ecosystem services assessment (e.g. scoping, identifying relevant ecosystem service dependency and impacts, assessing ecosystem services condition and trends, and translating the results into business risks and opportunities).
  • Building on its typology of business decisions that ecosystem services can inform

The Protocol however goes further by:

  • Providing more detailed technical guidance for the process of carrying out a natural capital assessment.
  • Emphasizing the importance of both measurement and valuation, which can be qualitative, quantitative or monetary, to better inform business decisions.
  • Including abiotic as well as ecosystem services in the definition of natural capital.

We encourage companies to continue to progress and get a deeper understanding of their risks and opportunities related to natural capital. Both the CESR and the Protocol represent critical milestones on the journey to incorporating natural capital into business decision making.

Signed on behalf of the Coalition                                                                   Signed on Behalf of WRI

Mark Gough                                                                                                   Janet Ranganathan

Executive Director                                                                                          Vice President, Science & Research

Natural Capital Coalition                                                                                 World Resources Institute

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