Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise to lead $2.3 million effort to improve economic links to marine ecosystems

International team will undertake research to develop tools that identify and nurture positive links between local businesses, local economies, and coastal natural capital.

Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise to lead $2.3 million effort to improve economic links to marine ecosystems

Mark Milstein, clinical professor of management and director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, will lead a team of international researchers to improve the link between local economies and the natural wealth of coastal communities in the East Asia-Pacific, following the signing of an agreement today by the World Bank in Washington DC.

Cornell University joins an international team that will undertake research to calculate a value for the services provided to communities by natural assets in the coastal environment, including seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs. The project team will develop analysis tools that identify and nurture positive links between local businesses, local economies, and coastal natural capital. Local, national and regional communities in the Philippines and Indonesia will be involved in the project.

Today’s signing of a Head Agreement between the World Bank and The University of Queensland (UQ) further embeds Cornell as a leading expert institution in coastal and marine research and management science applications for sustainability. Capturing Coral Reef & Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES) is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), via an investment administered by the World Bank, and UQ. The CCRES project will be managed by the Global Change Institute at UQ.

The agreement paves the way for the appointment of Cornell University as a partner in the new CCRES project. Additional funding for CCRES activities will involve Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who will join a team valuing ecosystem services that contribute to regional policy decisions. Cornell’s involvement in CCRES evolved from Harvell’s prior research on coral reef health. Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future helped to catalyze the university’s involvement in the project.

“In many tropical coastal areas, natural capital is in decline as human populations expand and the value of ecosystem services is misunderstood, overlooked, or ignored in a quest for economic progress,” said Milstein. “In the long run, both existing businesses and entrepreneurial ventures must operate so they benefit from, and maintain the value of, critical coastal ecosystem services.”

Coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds and their multitude of services, including reef fisheries, ecotourism, coastal defence, blue carbon sequestration and storage, and water filtration, are under threat from pollution, exploitation, overfishing, and climate change.

“By partnering in CCRES, we will work with communities in the East Asia-Pacific – more than 450 million of whom live below the poverty line – to integrate ecosystems and business to protect valuable marine ecosystems in the heart of the coral triangle,” said Harvell. “Being a partner in CCRES enables Cornell to make a timely and critical contribution to the livelihoods, food security, climate resilience, and wellbeing of coastal communities in the heart of a region with the fastest-growing population on the planet.”

Johnson at Cornell University has a longstanding history of educating MBA students in the domain of sustainable global enterprise, and doing so in collaboration with units across Cornell University. Its Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise was founded to be a global leader in business and sustainability research and teaching.

“The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise’s leadership within CCRES exemplifies Johnson’s commitment to partnering with outstanding colleagues across Cornell University to promote knowledge that contributes to global innovation,” said Soumitra Dutta, dean of Johnson at Cornell University. “We are proud to have the opportunity to undertake world-class research and innovation, in collaboration with leading centers of discovery, learning and engagement in North America, Australia, and South-East Asia.”

In addition to Cornell University and The University of Queensland (Australia), CCRES partners include The University of California (Davis, California), WWF US, Currie Communications (Australia), the University of the Philippines, and De La Salle University (the Philippines).

According to Marea Hatziolos, Senior Coastal and Marine Specialist in the East Asia-Pacific Region at the World Bank, the wealth of natural capital has the potential to be a major driver of inclusive “green growth” in the region.

“There’s enormous potential if we can transform the development and stewardship of coastal areas by translating ecological value into financial terms for local stakeholders and policy makers,” Hatziolos said. “We especially need better resource governance regimes, measures to adequately value the environment for current and future generations when calculating economic benefits, and good scientific information to inform decision-making and trade-offs.”

About The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise
Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise produces and disseminates relevant knowledge for managers seeking innovative, profitable business opportunities that address global sustainability challenges. The Center works with firms to specify innovative, entrepreneurial, and new business alternatives that can be implemented in the marketplace. Programs include those focused on market and enterprise creation, clean technology commercialization and innovation, and finance + sustainability.

About Johnson
Johnson at Cornell University prides itself on being an intense, collaborative community that functions like a high-performance workplace. Our world-renowned faculty educates leaders for the connected world through five MBA programs, PhD Program and non-degree executive education. Johnson also offers programs across Latin America, Mexico and China, which enhance Johnson’s global centers and institutes of excellence.

About Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future
Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future advances multidisciplinary research in Energy, the Environment, and Economic Development and cultivates innovative collaborations within and beyond Cornell to foster a sustainable future for all.

CCRES (The Capturing Coral Reef & Related Ecosystem Services project) seeks to unlock the natural wealth of coastlines in the East Asia-Pacific. CCRES will undertake research to calculate a value for the services provided to local communities by seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs and develop eco-friendly businesses, toolkits and spatial planning models which capture this value and, in doing so, assist communities to develop new sustainable revenue streams.

About the Global Change Institute

The Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, Australia, is an independent source of game-changing research, ideas and advice for addressing the challenges of global change. The Global Change Institute advances discovery, creates solutions and advocates responses that meet the challenges presented by climate change, technological innovation and population change.

About the World Bank

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Its aim is to end extreme poverty and to boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40 per cent of people in developing countries. The World Bank helps governments by providing them with the financing and technical expertise they need for a wide range of projects, such as education, health, infrastructure, communications, government reforms, and for many other purposes. It is also a knowledge bank which puts technology and innovation in the service of people to help them achieve a better life.

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. An independently-operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

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