Healthy ecosystems, which rely upon biodiversity, provide many types of services. These include the following categories:
Provisioning: This includes the provision of food, fresh water, medicinal products, etc
Regulatory: These services include purification of air and water, flood and erosion control, carbon sequestration (climate regulation), natural pest control, etc
Social/Cultural: While sometimes harder to define, these services include tourism and recreation, cultural heritage, educational opportunities, spiritual/psychological well-being, opportunities for “bio-mimicry” (studying designs from nature), etc
Ontogenetic: This refers to physiological and psychological development. It has been shown that children exposed to nature experience various health benefits and that exposure to natural green spaces can reduce stress and increase productivity.
Businesses are both affected by, and rely upon, these biodiversity and ecosystem services, regardless of organization size, location and sector. This is more obvious for some, less so for others. There are some industries whose profitability depends directly on the health of ecosystems, for example forestry, fishing, agriculture and ecotourism. Other sectors have a direct impact on ecosystems and biodiversity through their operations, such as mining, construction and energy. For companies in these areas, a good track record on sustainability management is crucial for them to be able to obtain operating licenses and to maintain good relationships with stakeholders (i.e. local communities and NGOs). Other industries, such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, also depend on biological material and genetic resources in the creation and manufacture of their products. Many firms find inspiration in biological systems when they are designing new products, and all companies, in all sectors, rely upon the various ecosystem services provided free of charge by natural systems around the world.
Even the financial sector is exposed to risks caused by biodiversity loss. This is due to insurance claims and poor (or negative) returns on investments caused by natural and man-made disasters, made worse through environmental degradation. The financial sector can also have a major impact through project financing and the creation of new environmental markets, such as payment for ecosystem services, biodiversity offsets and REDD+.
For more information on the state of biodiversity and biodiversity loss, please refer to the Global Biodiversity Outlook.
For more information on ecosystem services, please see The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report.
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