Making the value of nature visible
Natural capital accounting (or ‘ecosystem accounting’) is the process of calculating the stocks and flows of ecosystem services in each ecosystem or region, and integrating the value of these services into accounting and reporting systems. This is useful because it allows like-for-like comparisons with other goods and services that people are more familiar with.
More significantly, expressing the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary terms makes it more visible to decision-makers and their stakeholders, leading to better decision-making around land and resource use management. However, it is important to stress that monetary valuation can never capture the intrinsic value of nature and as such, it is not suited to be the sole driver of decisions.
If all Philips sites were put together, they would only cover an area the size of Central Park in New York. Spatial footprint is not, therefore, Philips’ biggest environmental impact driver. However, it is a key driver of biodiversity loss in general, and that is why we have launched a Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services program to measure and improve ecosystem services and biodiversity at Philips’ global manufacturing sites.
We start by measuring the ‘baseline’ ecosystem functions and services. Based on this baseline, we simulate and design (nature-based) solutions to improve ecosystem functions (e.g. green walls and roofs, planting trees and native vegetation, pocket parks, pervious paving, bioswales). The positive impact can be measured by comparing the baseline to simulated ecosystem values.
A few years from now, it will be possible to compare the baseline ecosystem values with actual improved ecosystem functions and services, thereby quantifying the real positive impact. This is important as improved ecosystem functions are correlated with increased biodiversity.