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2009 - Houdet et al - Accounting for Changes in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services from a Business Perspective

Title

Accounting for Changes in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services from a Business Perspective

Preliminary guidelines towards a Biodiversity Accountability Framework

Authors

Joël Houdet, Charlotte Pavageau, Michel Trommetter, Jacques Weber

Date

November 2009

Abstract

Biodiversity refers to the dynamics of interactions between organisms in hanging environments. Within the context of accelerating biodiversity loss worldwide, firms are under increasing pressures from stakeholders to develop appropriate tools to account for the nature and consequences of their actions, inclusive of their influences on ecosystem services used by other agents. This paper presents a two-pronged approach towards accounting for changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services from a business perspective. First, we seek to analyze how Environmental Management Accounting (EMA) may be used by firms to identify and account for the interactions between their activities and biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES). To that end, we use dairy farming as a case study and propose general recommendations regarding accounting for changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services from a management accounting perspective. Secondly, after discussing the corporate reporting implications of the main environmental accounting approaches, we propose the underlying principles and structural components of a Biodiversity Accountability Framework (BAF) which would combine both financial and BES data sets; hence, suggesting the need for changes in business accounting and reporting standards. Because this would imply significant changes in business information systems and corporate rating practices, we also underline the importance of making the associated technological, organizational and institutional innovations financially viable. The BAF should be designed as an information base, coconstructed with stakeholders, for setting up and managing new modes of regulation combining tools for mitigating BES loss and remunerating BES supply.