The world’s population depends on ecosystem services, but in economic terms, these services are typically “free” and consequently, increasingly overexploited. A whole range of policy and market mechanism responses are required to solve the largely “public goods problems” underlying biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
Market Based Instruments (MBIs) can then generate financing for sustainable management of natural resources. These markets are emerging, however, while the research is quite advanced in this topic, the private sector contribution is still limited.
Therefore, ECOSTAR aims to contribute to the development of a nature-based economy related with Marketing and Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (MEEB) through improving skills, innovation and entrepreneurship attitudes of students, PhD, research staff and professors of forestry and environmental university departments.
Worldwide, most of innovative businesses base their success on creating value through better use of intangible assets, especially in the IT, marketing and financial sectors. If we consider that ecosystem services constitute the most valuable intangible assets on earth and that the global demand for “nature” is increasing, we can assume a next generation – green and circular economy – based on Natural Capital investments and valuation of ecosystem services.
In particular, ECOSTAR is looking to make the “business case” for those business models that focus on the direct management of one or more identified ecosystems (forests, wetlands, rivers, etc.), using an ecosystem approach to facilitate/support the production, delivery and marketing of well-defined ecosystem services. We aim to characterize and promote initiatives that are outstanding in terms of:
a. Success of their business models or more simply, business model success;
b. Affinity with the concept of MBIs for biodiversity and ecosystem services conservation (such as payments for ecosystem service (PES), certification, labelling and marketing, etc.).
c. Level of general sustainability of the model (from a social, economic and environmental perspective);
d. Level of innovation of the business model (we are interested in looking at innovative ideas rather than traditional ones).
e. Level of reinvestment on the natural capital or on particular ecosystem services;
Initially, we focus on 4 main thematic areas: Natural Capital Accounting, Wild Forest Products Marketing, Forest and Carbon Certification, Ecotourism. However, we aim to enlarge the selection of topics.
We believe that promoting ecosystem services or biodiversity-based business models we can contribute to a more green and circular economy, based on a more sustainable approach to Natural Capital utilization, improving natural assets and increasing ecosystem services, without which we cannot survive.