News from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study

By Joshua Bishop - Public comment on the TEEB for Business Report, coordinated by IUCN Chief Economist Joshua Bishop, was launched at the 1st Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium, held in London on 13 July 2010.

The TEEB for Business Report provides evidence of growing concern about biodiversity loss in business, and offers examples of how some leading companies are taking action to conserve biodiversity and to restore ecosystems. The report begins with a review of indicators and drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline, and shows how these present both risks and opportunities to business. It examines the changing preferences of consumers for nature-friendly products and services, and offers examples of how companies are responding.

The report also describes recent initiatives to enable businesses to measure, value and report their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and outlines priorities for further work in this area. A range of practical tools to manage biodiversity risks in business are reviewed, with examples of how some companies are using these tools to deliver business value. The report explores emerging business models that seek to deliver biodiversity benefits and ecosystem services on a commercial basis, the enabling frameworks needed to stimulate investment and entrepreneurship to realize such opportunities, and the obstacles that must be overcome.

The report goes on to examine how business can align their actions in relation to biodiversity and ecosystem services with wider corporate social responsibility initiatives, including community engagement and poverty reduction. The TEEB for Business Report concludes with a review of business and biodiversity initiatives and an agenda for action by business as well as other stakeholders. Key action points for business are as follows:

  • Identify the impacts and dependencies of business on biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES)
  • Assess the business risks and opportunities associated with these impacts and dependencies
  • Develop BES information systems, set SMART targets, measure and value performance, and report results
  • Take action to avoid, minimize and mitigate BES risks, including in-kind compensation (‘offsets') where feasible
  • Grasp emerging BES business opportunities, such as cost-efficiencies, new products and new markets
  • Integrate business strategy and actions on BES with wider corporate social responsibility initiatives
  • Engage with business peers and stakeholders in government, NGOs and civil society to improve BES guidance and policy

Media coverage and other feedback on the report so far has been encouraging. To cite one example, the Director General of the New Zealand Department of Conservation (an IUCN member) wrote: "I believe that the TEEB for Business Report points the way of the future for conservation agencies. It will certainly help shape the direction that my department is taking."

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study welcomes comments on its draft Report for Business. The report is available at and is open for comment until 6 September 2010. The authors especially welcome additional case studies from or about companies based in the developing world and in emerging economies. The report will be presented at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, and is to be published by Earthscan in 2011.

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