The reliance organizations have on ecosystem services such as clean water, air, climate, timber, fibres, food and genetic resources is fundamentally an element of corporate risk and strategy that is often overlooked.
Where traditional environmental management examines the impact the organization has on the environment, the idea of ecosystem services is novel in the sense that it is also concerned with the impact the environment has on the organization.
We surveyed corporate managers in the Australian resources and infrastructure sectors and found that most are ill-equipped to address ecosystem services as a strategic aspect of long-term organizational sustainability. A high proportion of respondents indicated that their organization has both the awareness and capacity to address ecosystem service issues. However, this contradicts previous research which suggests that it is unlikely that organizations implement strategies to secure access to multiple ecosystem services.
The results of this research indicate that corporate managers’ distinguish ecosystem services as a concern that transcends environment departments. This suggests that organizational culture has a role to play in fostering an environment where the management of ecosystem services is integrated across a range of business activities.
However, we also found that environment and sustainability managers are not empowered to enact the organizational transformation that is required to achieve holistic ecosystem management.
Kristine Dewar, Business Sustainability Analyst, Carbon House
15th& 16th September – Radisson Resort, Gold Coast, Australia