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feb11 2a

BUSINESS AND
BIODIVERSITY

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Evidence of global decline in biological diversity is incontrovertible. And it is encouraging to see that business is beginning to notice the threat posed by biodiversity loss and are now aligning protective measures with wider corporate social responsibility initiatives in an effort to protect our biodiversity and ecosystem services.

THE SUMMIT

As one of a select group of “forest rich” nations on earth, Indonesia has been chosen to play host to the 2011 Business for the Environment (B4E) summit from 27 – 29 April. The summit will be held in partnership with the UN, WWF, the World Bank, the Government of Indonesia, CNN and Time.

Jakarta is bracing itself for the arrival of hundreds of representatives from companies, NGO’s, international agencies and governments around the world for the event, where delegates will share and explore transformative solutions to tackle climate change and to protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystems. Partnerships are formed and commitments are made to accelerate the shift towards a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

B4E is the world’s leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. Held in partnership with WWF and Global Initiatives, the Summit offers collaborative solutions to address the most urgent environmental and climate issues facing the world today.

Jakarta is expected to strengthen its strategic role to play in the debate surrounding the sustainable use of forests for the mitigation of climate change. It is a well known fact that Indonesia is one of the world’s most prominent logging and mining nations, so urgent action is required to ensure that the archipelago’s biodiversity is not ruined further by these industries in the years to come.

Former US Vice President (VP) and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore met with Indonesian government, business and NGO leaders on Sunday, 9 January 2011 to discuss how all parties could work together to find the best solutions to tackle climate change. The meeting was held as part of the upcoming 2011 Business for the Environment (B4E) summit.

WHY IS BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEMS RELEVANT TO BUSINESS?

This will be the primary question resonating throughout the two-day summit. The truth is, all businesses, regardless of size, sector and location, ultimately depend on biodiversity. Whilst businesses can have a major direct and indirect impact on biodiversity, they also possess biodiversity relevant knowledge, technical resources and managerial skills. In turn, how companies manage biodiversity is, increasingly, seen as relevant to their bottom line performance.

Business is starting to notice the threat posed by biodiversity loss. 27% of global CEOs surveyed by PwC in 2009 expressed concern about the impacts of biodiversity loss on their business growth prospects, especially in industries characterized by large direct impacts on biodiversity and in developing regions. Even the financial services industry is starting to ask questions about biodiversity and ecosystems. Investors are exploring new opportunities linked to biodiversity and ecosystem services, refraining from financing sectors in which a bank lacks specialist knowledge, and working with borrowers to improve their environmental performance and to mitigate harm.

 

Businesses with a sustainable future in mind can create opportunities from the greening of investor, client and consumer preferences – they can influence consumer choice and behaviour by providing information about the sustainability of their products, as well as how to use and dispose of them responsibly. The first step is for businesses to identify the impacts and dependencies of their products and services on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

BUSINESS AND ECO-SYSTEMS: A STRONGER BUSINESS CASE

For these reasons, businesses are becoming increasingly involved in dialogue around environmental issues and biodiversity. They are also becoming more transparent about their environmental and social sustainability initiatives, with the Corporate Social Responsibility menu tab on their websites being very prominent in most cases.

Companies that understand and manage the risks presented by biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline, that establish operational models that are flexible and resilient to these pressures, and that move quickly to seize business opportunities, are more likely to thrive.

Just as climate change has stimulated carbon markets and new business models, biodiversity and ecosystem services also offer opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs. However, there is a need to agree priorities and adopt an agenda for action – by business leaders, accountancy bodies, governments and other stakeholders – otherwise significant change is unlikely.

In the short run, businesses that haven’t started taking a concrete interest in how they affect the environment and what they can do to mitigate any damage, are lagging behind in the race to save our planet.

Sources:
TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Report for Business - Executive Summary 2010

http://www.wwf.or.id/index.cfm?uNewsID=21360&uLangID=1

http://www.b4esummit.com/