Businesses have a unique opportunity to increase their biodiversity efforts and mitigate biodiversity loss, one of the biggest existential threats facing the planet over the next 5-10 years.
WWF describes biodiversity as all the different kinds of life – the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms like bacteria that make up the natural world. Each species and organism creates ecosystems to maintain balance and support life.
What biodiversity means for business.
Biodiversity plays a vital role in the economic ecosystem due to its extensive role across supply chains, regulatory compliance, and business operations. Within the supply chain, businesses rely on species and ecosystem services in the production process. Likewise, biodiversity supports healthy ecosystems to treat and dissipate business waste, maintain soil and water quality, and help control air composition.
Aside from this, biodiversity can provide cost savings for businesses identifying areas to cut raw material use and can increase a business’s brand affinity for the efforts to tackle biodiversity loss.
Notably, biodiversity can have a direct impact on multiple sectors:
Under the UK Environment Act 2021, planning permissions granted in England must deliver at least a 10% biodiversity net gain from November 2023. The law will support the UK’s efforts to protect and preserve our habitats and environment.
Besides legislation, it has been reported that a nature-positive pathway in the built environment could create over $3 trillion in business opportunities and create 117 million jobs by 2030.
Food and Drink
Products ranging from coffee to chips rely on functioning ecosystems and biodiversity. Around 75% of the world’s food comes from just a dozen crops and five animal species, leaving supplies very vulnerable to pests or diseases that can sweep through large areas of monocultures.
Agricultural firms rely on various crops to ensure business stability, and manufacturers within their supply chain rely on water during production and the natural environment to treat waste.
The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 will begin to drive biodiversity and directly impact business across all sectors in the coming years. The document represents the first review of the UK’s 25-year environment plan to help the natural world restore and retain its good health.
The role business plays in biodiversity.
Biodiversity loss has been heightened globally due to human activity. Human activity ranging from land use change to the extraction of metals and materials has accounted for 80% of biodiversity loss and contributed to air pollution and carbon emissions. Similarly, a report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)revealed that 75% of the world’s land-based environment and 66% of its marine environment were impacted by human actions.
As one of its largest contributors, individuals must work to mitigate further biodiversity loss. Individuals can use their businesses to proactively enhance biodiversity throughout their operations and embed a culture of sustainability.
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a strategy to develop land and contribute to the recovery of nature. BNG is an integral part of the UK government’s commitment to halt and reverse species decline by 2030; businesses can support this commitment by implementing BNG strategies that address biodiversity within their operations.
There are several ways businesses can make commitments to increase their biodiversity efforts and BNG.
Set targets: Assess the key ecosystems and biodiversity issues within your business’s operations and set targets to tackle them periodically. Businesses can set Science-Based Target with SBTI and work with sustainability certifications like Planet Mark to increase the rigour of targets and establish a process for measuring and disclosing progress.
Engage the supply chain: Work with your stakeholders and suppliers to identify biodiversity dependencies and risks to identify areas for improvement.
Build greener workspaces: BNG initiatives such as green roofs, tree planting and installing beehives on office roofs can be explored by businesses. Businesses can work with charities such as The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (Planet Mark Members) to identify the best ways to support bumblebees on their land.
Supporting reforestation efforts: Businesses can support and donate to charities working to tackle deforestation. Charities like Cool Earth are committed to protecting rainforests, vital carbon sinks that help regulate our climate.
Make the change
Businesses have an opportunity to play a crucial role in reversing their negative impact on biodiversity through BNG efforts. A clear BNG strategy can help businesses support the UK’s commitment to biodiversity, strengthen their business’s stability and offer cost savings by tackling biodiversity inefficiencies within their supply chain.
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