A new scientific report released this week reinforces the need for business and industry action to protect natural systems for the sake of continued business success as well as the operating environment they require to function effectively. Major changes that will have a profound affect on business include climate change, loss of biodiversity and water scarcity; all essential for human well being, according to Earthwatch Institute (Europe).
The new Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Business & Industry Synthesis Report confirms that many of the world's ecosystems are in serious decline, and the continuing supply of critical ecosystem services is now in jeopardy. The loss or degradation of these ecosystem services will profoundly affect businesses and society, resulting in higher operating costs or reduced operating flexibility, unless significant action is taken to reduce operational footprints.
"This really is a clarion call to business and industry to get much more involved with environmental conservation as a matter of considerable urgency." said Dr Roger Mitchell, Chief Scientist and Director of Research and Education at Earthwatch Institute (Europe). "The report removes any doubt about the dramatic reduction of our natural wealth, indeed our global capital assets, by the ever increasing demands for food, freshwater, timber, fibre and fuel. This has happened more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years that at any other period, and the demand, with its accompanying impact on ecosystems, is likely to continue growing over the next 50 years too."
Many governments, NGO's and leading companies are already taking action. Earthwatch Institute (Europe) has already partnered with Cadbury Schweppes and the Ghana Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) to work on a three year project to integrate sound ecological principles with economic farm practices to reduce the impact on the forest environment. The project encourages new farming methods to support the production of quality cocoa beans whilst maintaining and enhancing habitats for birds and other wildlife to support an ecotourism initiative to improve the farmers' long term financial security.
"The work we do every day is about finding solutions to the very issues the report says the private sector must confront," said David Hillyard, Director of Programme Development at Earthwatch Institute (Europe). "Leading companies are already aware of the issues and are working to address them. However, there is a need for a far broader business engagement and also for business, NGOs and Government to work effectively together to address change at a much more significant level and pace."
Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is also currently developing a partnership with Mitsubishi Corporation, the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles (NPTS) and the Coral Reef Research Unit (CRRU) to initiate a detailed field investigation on the community ecology of coral reef systems and related habitats at Silhouette Island in the Republic of Seychelles. Although still in development stages, the project will study the diversity of fauna in the coral reef and mangrove areas, identifying important communities and species for long term monitoring. The results of the study will be used to make recommendations for the conservation of the largest and least known of the Seychelle's marine parks.
"We have known for a long time that solutions to the environmental problems we face require the active participation and support of the private sector and we work with many leading companies to achieve progress," added Hillyard.