A group of leading companies and non-governmental organizations have embarked on a new partnership in Brazil today to incorporate ecosystem services into business strategies. The Parceria Empresarial pelos Serviços Ecossistêmicos (PESE), or Brazilian Business and Ecosystem Services Partnership, represents a major effort to demonstrate how biodiversity and ecosystem services can enhance corporate performance in Brazil, home of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) next month.
The goal is to develop strategies that align business performance to the sustainable management of ecosystems. Leading companies, such as Anglo American, Grupo André Maggi, PepsiCo, Vale, Votorantim and Wal-Mart, are among the first companies participating in this initiative. The partnership was organized by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), the Center for Sustainability Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (GVces), and the World Resources Institute, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Industry relies on ecosystem services, such as food production, clean water, a stable climate, protection from natural hazards, and more,” explained Craig Hanson, Director of the People and Ecosystems Program at WRI. “PESE will empower Brazilian companies to manage business risks and opportunities arising from their dependence and impacts on ecosystem services.”
The partnership will drive new business solutions to ecosystem degradation largely through local application of the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review (ESR), the leading assessment methodology developed by WRI in cooperation with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Meridian Institute. By applying the ESR, corporate partners will develop strategies to better compete and succeed in a world that is pushing against natural limits.
“Using the ESR, companies have been able to uncover new profitable strategies while protecting and restoring ecosystems. Our goal is to replicate these successes in Brazil,” said Marina Grossi, President of CEBDS.
One example of a company that has already experienced positive results from managing the ecosystems in which it operates is Mondi, Europe’s largest paper and pulp company. In 2008, Mondi conducted an ESR in three of its paper plantations in South Africa. The ESR highlighted strategies the company could implement to increase access to freshwater while improving regional watershed health, strengthening its relationship with local communities, and reducing operational costs.
An estimated 300 companies have already implemented the ESR worldwide since 2008. As this method gains traction in Brazil, WRI, CEBDS, and GVces will provide technical assistance and advice to corporate partners in order to enhance the quality and efficiency of applying the ESR.
The partners also aim to create a network of companies active in the management of ecosystem services in Brazil, in order to communicate results, contribute new case studies, and scale up successful strategies.
“As with the arrival of the GHG Protocol five years ago, the launch of PESE today represents another step towards sustainability for Brazilian business,” explained Mario Monzoni GVces coordinator.