WBCSD Insider perspective: Business and Biodiversity Forum

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08 December, 2016


WBCSD insights




2-3 December Cancun

Key takeaways from the Forum:

  • Conveying the urgency of the status of biodiversity is not sufficient. Direct action on biodiversity is more likely to be driven by a strong business case grounded in science and finance.
  • Academia expressed the desire and need to partner with business as there is a clear need for better dissemination and easier access to existing knowledge among business.
  • Collaboration between business, NGOs and local communities is critical to addressing the biodiversity challenge and driving economic prosperity and social well-being. 

WBCSD advocates for the integration of biodiversity into business strategies and operations and encourages business to measure, value and report biodiversity impacts and dependencies. With a view to represent the voice of business and support its members in demonstrating how business can contribute to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, WBCSD attended the Business and Biodiversity Forum. Jointly organized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat and the Ministry of Environment of Mexico, the Forum was held on 2-3 December in Cancun, Mexico ahead of the CBD COP13.

The Forum was the next step on the “business journey”, taking place nearly three months after the IUCN World Conservation Congress. It was a unique opportunity to continue the dialogue while informing governments of the business engagement at COP and in biodiversity preservation.

Over 300 participants including more than a third representing businesses and nearly a quarter representing business associations or organizations working directly with business gathered to reflect on the role of biodiversity in the economy and social well-being; and to present novel perspectives to address conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity from the private sector perspective.

Today the business community is here and poised to make a difference

Peter Seligmann,CEO Conservation International

Biodiversity for Business

Day 1 of the Forum was dedicated to “Biodiversity for Business” and highlighted the link between the protection of biodiversity and the economy while natural capital was recognized as a key element of sustainability and competitiveness.

One of the key highlight of the Plenary was the call for tools that support decision-making and that aren’t siloed, as well as the need for clearer regulations based on sound science. 

We need to assess risks, but also to value opportunities…We have been using the Natural Capital Protocol to help us with this task…Measuring the impact of operations is the only way to understand and better operate facilities…

Mr. Juan Romero,CEO Mexico, Cemex

In a parallel panel breakout session on Climate, Biodiversity and Business, WBCSD presented its work program on Natural Infrastructure and strengthened the case for nature-based solutions as an effective means to address climate mitigation and adaptation.

Businesses were warmly invited to sign the Cancun Business and Biodiversity Pledge. By the end of day 1, over 100 signatories had signed the Pledge, including the following WBCSD members: BASF, Cemex, Dow, Firmenich, Masisa, Nestlé, L’Oréal, Veolia, Votorantim Cimentos.

Business for Biodiversity

The second day of the Forum was dedicated to addressing the theme of “Business for Biodiversity” and focused on business practices and opportunities for businesses that take into account conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Day 2 of the Forum started with a call for business to implement its commitments

The plenary of Day 2 highlighted the urgency of addressing the biodiversity crisis and the need for companies to “change their DNA” and truly take biodiversity into the mainstream of their operations.

While the morning focused on sustainable production, consumption patterns and supply chains as well as innovative partnerships for the conservation of biodiversity, the rest of the day focused on the four thematic sectors of the Forum:

  • Agriculture;
  • Tourism;
  • Forestry;
  • Fisheries.

Business, NGOs, foundations and academia respectively presented the opportunities and the challenges to mainstream biodiversity into operations.

In this context, WBCSD released a briefing paper on landscape approaches to showcase the business case for engaging in a multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral strategy that can help companies deliver against multiple Sustainable Development Goals. 

Business engagement must continue

Business has demonstrated that delivering positive actions on biodiversity is possible and that biodiversity is an opportunity for innovation. However, it is unanimously agreed that biodiversity doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

Strengthening the business case for biodiversity and collaborating with other stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, academia, local communities, etc.) were identified as key to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

WBCSD will continue working with its members on the critical issue of biodiversity and will help companies embed biodiversity considerations into their operations.

Conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and associated ecosystems services is not only essential to business continuity and growth, it is indispensable to human survival.

The following compelling video was showed during Plenary on the first day, and we wanted to share it with you. It summarizes well the need for business and society to act: “Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature“, Conservation International.