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RELEASE: Companies Develop Actions to Manage Ecosystem Risks and Opportunities

Closing event of PESE’s first phase presents corporate case studies

Brazilian Business Council on Sustainable Development (CEBDS), Center for Sustainability Studies at Fundação Getulio Vargas (GVces) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), with the support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), presented the results of the first phase of the Brazilian Business Partnership on Ecosystem Services (PESE), during the VI Sustentável International Congress – from Vision 2050 to Action 2020, on September 24, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro.

The project worked with seven companies to build capacity around the Ecosystem Services Review (ESR), a tool designed to evaluate the level of impact and dependence of companies on ecosystem services (such as freshwater, wood, climate regulation, and food production). Participating companies include Anglo American, Danone, André Maggi Group, Natura, PepsiCo, Votorantim and Walmart.

“It is a structured methodology that assists managers to proactively develop strategies to manage risks and opportunities arising from a company’s dependence and impact on ecosystems,” explains Fernanda Gimenes, CEBDS’s Biodiversity and Biotechnology Thematic Chamber coordinator.

An estimated 300 companies have been using this tool worldwide since 2008, in order to understand their business’s impacts and dependencies on ecosystems, and thereafter change their management practices.

Brazilian experience

André Maggi Group, one of the main players in the Brazilian soy market, is using the ESR to help secure a sustainable supply of wood biomass to fuel its operations in the Amazon. Its sustainability and operations teams joined forces to develop a biomass procuring strategy that was both more economical and more resilient for the region.

Walmart is facing environmental challenges regarding its beef supply. Since cattle ranches occupy over 70% of deforested lands in the Amazon, Walmart established a goal to have a zero-deforestation beef supply chain by 2015. To help the company reach this target, Walmart’s ESR will examine ranching practices that reduce deforestation.

Danone, a dairy multinational company, focused on evaluating strategic risks and opportunities related to its main children’s product line. In collaboration with Ipê, a local NGO, Danone identified ways to help milk producers in its supply chain to improve the soil and biodiversity quality of its pastures, in order to improve the quality of the milk and to reduce the company’s operational costs.

“Agriculture is an important driver of deforestation in Brazil. The consequent loss to forest-based ecosystem services, such as climate and water regulation, threatens the supply of agricultural products in the country. Therefore, companies face operational and reputational risks as a result of these environmental changes,” remarks Fernanda Gimenes.

International experience

Mondi, Europe’s largest pulp and paper company, is an example of a company that achieved positive results from ecosystem management. Mondi applied the ESR in three paper plantations in South Africa in 2008. The results guided strategies that the company could implement to improve its access to freshwater, improving the quality of regional watersheds and lowering the water supply risks, while building relationships with local communities and lowering operational costs.

Syngenta, a global leader in agribusiness, applied the ESR in small farms in southern India. The tool helped the company to identify risks being faced by its clients due to ecosystem degradation, such as the decline of natural predators to control pests, and the reduction in soil fertility.

More information: http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/brazilian-business-and-ecosystem-services-partnership

This project was made possible through the generous support from USAID. The contents are the responsibility of CEBDS, GVces and WRI, and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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