Businesses all over the world are taking action for biodiversity. From creating simple habitats to financing restoration projects, from supporting community conservation to accounting for natural capital impacts and dependencies, the private sector is realising the value of nature. Why? There is a strong moral case for biodiversity conservation that is endorsed by Irish people: 97% of us agree that we have a responsibility to look after nature (1). But there is a business case too that shouldn't be ignored.
Businesses have a vested interest in biodiversity and ecosystem services: biodiversity decline is linked to risk across major business areas such as operations, regulatory compliance, reputation, market, supply chain, product, insurance and finance (2, 3). Half of corporate earnings could be at risk from environmental externalities (4), while financial estimates for loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services have been estimated at $6.6tr - that's 11% of global GDP (5). The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has outlined a roadmap to a sustainable 2050 that describes a vision for the future in which nine billion people enjoy both a high ranking on the Human Development Index and a low Ecological Footprint (6). Central to this vision is well-managed biodiversity that "flourishes".
Businesses have enormous potential to help reverse biodiversity loss and create positive impact in our landscapes. Aside from raising awareness with their employees and encouraging them to take action at home and in their communities, businesses can affect real change through their value chains by choosing suppliers and materials that are managing biodiversity effectively (7). What's more, businesses often own or rent large landholdings that can be managed for wildlife. Doing so can benefit the business by enhancing community relationships and also by providing wild spaces that staff can enjoy, helping to reduce stress, improve cognition, concentration, workplace attitude and productivity (8). There is evidence to suggest that these psychological and physical benefits may increase with species richness and habitat diversity (9).
Action & Impact
Businesses can take action for biodiversity in a variety of ways - with employees, in communities, on-site, across supply chains, or in business strategy - and the type and scale of project will determine the business impacts. Biodiversity initiatives have the potential to enhance a business's reputation, engage employees, improve health and wellbeing and help to achieve Corporate Social Responsibility or sustainability targets. Understanding the potential benefits can inform the design of your biodiversity actions, and help to ensure you add maximum value to your efforts.
(1) Eurobarometer, 2015
(2) KPMG, 2012
(3) World Economic Forum, 2010
(4) United Nations Environment Programme - Finance Initiative, 2011
(5) The Principles for Responsible Investment + United Nations Environment Programme - Finance Initiative, 2011
(6) The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2010
(7) Armsworth et al., 2010
(8) Sandifer et al., 2015
(9) Fuller et al., 2007