NEPCon is taking part in an initiative to increase the value placed on the natural world by helping people bring business ideas on ecosystem services to fruition. This article provides some information about the initiative to help get you thinking about any new business ideas you may have, and to encourage you to join our community.
The initiative is called ECOSTAR Natural Talents and is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and other investors. It is a collaboration between universities and private sector organisations in Italy, Romania, Spain and the UK.
Together, we aim to:
- Create strong partnerships between universities or research institutes and businesses interested in ecosystem services.
- Foster entrepreneurial skills among universities and research institutes that work on ecosystem services.
- Help students, researchers and anyone else with a good business idea on ecosystem services to get their idea off the ground.
‘Ecosystem services’ are all benefits that humankind gets from nature, from technical things such as water purification and carbon sequestration, to cultural things such as being able to go for a walk in a beautiful forest. We need more businesses that look after and promote these services!
On 15 June 2017, we held a public meeting at the University Polytechnic of Madrid in Spain to engage students, researchers, business experts, scientific experts and investors in the ECOSTAR Hub. People from Italy, Romania and the UK also took part by internet link-up.
Get involved now by joining the community! We are looking for:
- Investors and sponsors willing to support innovative start-ups
- Students, researchers and universities looking to cooperate with the private sector.
- Start-ups and entrepreneurs that wish to link with investors and scale up their business ideas.
There are online training courses running from October to December 2017. Find out about them here.
The ‘Nature Accelerator programme’
At the beginning of 2018 ECOSTAR will launch the ‘Nature Accelerator programme’, a call for ideas for innovative nature-based start-ups. This will be the first time that there has been a business accelerator programme in the world for business that are marketing and promoting ecosystem services.
Our main areas of work are:
- Natural capital accounting. How can we create business models that better add value to natural capital and ecosystem services as a competitive market strategy?
- Wild forest products marketing. How can we improve the marketing of wild forest products to increase the value of forests and their services?
- Forest and carbon certification marketing. How can we better market and label forest products and climate services through independent responsible certification systems?
- Ecotourism. How can we better invest in natural ecosystems to improve and market their landscape beauty, cultural values and recreational services?
The Nature-Accelerator will select eight winning start-ups. The winners will receive training, mentorship and investment to help their business to grow and make real positive impacts. The programme is powered by Fledge, an Accelerator based in Seattle, which gather a network of investors that care about biodiversity and nature conservation. Find out more about our Nature-Accelerator programme here.
Other work on ecosystem services
As well as being involved in this initiative, we’ve also been at the forefront of shaping other work on ecosystem services. For example:
- We developed our own carbon footprint management standard to allow companies to measure, reduce and offset their carbon emissions transparently.
- We developed a sustainable tourism standard called Global Ecosphere Retreats that is used by the Zeitz Foundation.
- We are taking part in an FSC technical working group to demonstrate the impact of forest stewardship on ecosystem services, including taking part in a pilot project in Nepal.
- We conducted a study into the synergies between the FSC forest sustainability system and voluntary forest carbon standards.