SS 15 - The Marriage of Business and Ecosystem Science: A Path to a Sustainable Planet

Wednesday, August 10, 2016: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
Grand Floridian Blrm A, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Leah R. Gerber, Arizona State University
Jen Molnar, The Nature Conservancy; Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota; John L Sabo, Arizona State University; and Omar Asensio, UCLA Center for Corporate Environmental Performance
Nature is the foundation of all economies. Yet decisions about natural resource use rarely account for the true value of natural capital, resulting in costs borne by society at large.  The risk of ignoring these external costs is unprecedented and rarely quantified.  Common manifestations include water scarcity, biodiversity loss, climate change, hazards from extreme weather, and food shortage.  These risks create direct challenges for corporations, financial markets, and governments.  To address these challenges, we must align our economic system with our ecological system.

Corporations and investors are increasingly coming to realize the materiality of natural capital and now recognize that the long-term viability of the enterprise requires adoption of practices that maintain the functionality of the natural systems and resources upon which they depend. Recognizing the high risk of doing otherwise, there is a growing demand from the corporate sector for ecological data and new analytics to consider in decision algorithms regarding daily operations.  Because ecologists have data, insights, and analytics to meet the growing demand and interest of corporations, we are in a position to dramatically influence corporate decision-making, and to create positive outcomes for global biodiversity and natural systems.  For ecologists to take advantage of business engagement, we must develop a value proposition that appeals to the bottom line in the corporate world.  Corporations are more open than ever before to understanding how they can eliminate or substantially reduce such risk, but they want to know their options, in terms that are relevant to a business decision-maker.

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