Banking on nature's assets - World Resources Institute

Banking on nature's assets - World Resources Institute

C H A P T E R 2

Using Ecosystem Services

MDB development services can benefit from incorporating

a more systematic approach to managing

ecosystems in their strategic priority setting,

analytical and advisory services, and investment. They have

already started down this path by taking significant steps

to integrate environmental sustainability into development

initiatives. For example, in 2001, the World Bank endorsed

its first formal Environment Strategy to support its overall

poverty reduction mission. The strategy focused on improving

quality of life, enhancing quality of growth, and protecting

the regional and global commons (World Bank 2001).

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) adopted an

Environment and Safeguard Policy in 2006 (IDB 2009). The

World Bank has also pioneered work on single ecosystem

services. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, for example,

helps forest-rich developing countries participate in markets

for the ecosystem service of climate regulation—how forests

sequester and store carbon from the atmosphere (Forest

Carbon Partnership 2009). A key next step is to scale up

existing efforts beyond single services and add-on projects to

integrate a consideration of multiple services in all strategic

direction-setting, investment, and advisory services (Table 2).

How ecosystem services can help

As the World Bank develops a new Environment Strategy

and seeks ways to mainstream environment and climate

change into its operations and as other MDBs refine their

own approaches, they can draw on recent experiences of

managing multiple ecosystem services by public and privatesector

players. (See Box 3 for examples.) Based on lessons

learned from these and other efforts, the World Resources

Institute has identified three effective elements of a more expansive

approach to ecosystem services: making the case that

ecosystems matter to development; managing ecosystem

service trade-offs; and informing the selection of policies for

sustaining ecosystem services.

(i) Making the case that ecosystems matter

to development

By treating nature’s benefits as wealth-creating assets that

support development, MDB staff can strengthen the case for

investing in the restoration, maintenance, and enhancement

of ecosystem services. Traditionally, society has put economic

development and nature in separate boxes: separate

academic disciplines, separate government agencies, and

correspondingly separate laws and policies. By making the

connection between ecosystems and people, the language of

ecosystem services can help reframe country dialogues on

environment and development from “do no harm” to “do


Using Ecosystem Services 5

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