Why should companies be focusing on biodiversity conservation?

biodiversity conservation

Biodiversity conservation is a crucial component of long-term business survival. Businesses, whether they realise it or not, rely on species, genes, and ecosystem services to create and dispose of their products. It wouldn’t be an understatement to suggest that the biodiversity crisis is a business crisis too. Despite this, business and industry have significant negative impacts on biodiversity resources. Incorporating a sustainability strategy that prioritises biodiversity can transform business risks into opportunities, ensuring long-term viability and ecological responsibility

Whilst their activities are driving biodiversity loss, they can choose to be part of the solution through mitigation and conservation efforts. As ecosystems continue to decline, businesses will face major risks, however, there are also real opportunities for those who decide to support biodiversity. Continue reading to learn why companies should be focusing on biodiversity conservation. 

Why businesses should care about biodiversity

Nowadays, it is not unusual for forward-thinking businesses to consider the opportunities and risks associated with the environmental emergency. Biodiversity is not simply a buzzword but vital for our planet and the future of humanity. Ecosystem decline and biodiversity loss present significant losses to businesses now and in the future. 

Additionally, there is a major risk for life on the planet. It’s clear business performance will no longer simply be dependent on profits and traditional measures of success but also on the health of our natural world. More than over half of world’s GDP depends on nature. The value of services and goods provided by ecosystems is determined to be worth between $125 and $140 trillion annually, according to the OECD. 

Industries like fashion, food and beverages, and agriculture, for example, could be significantly disrupted because the ecosystem services they rely on are becoming less reliable and available. Some of these services include climate regulation, clean water, healthy soils, and overall ecological balance. Biodiversity is under serious threat. It is declining quicker than at any time in human history. 

The unfortunate part of this is that it is being fueled by human activity. Some of these activities include exploiting natural resources through hunting, logging, harvesting, and overfishing. However, pollution is also a major contributor to biodiversity decline. Industrial and agricultural practices are causing the pollution of groundwater, coral reef collapse, the loss of wetlands, and deforestation. 

This ultimately means that roughly 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with the risk of extinction. What’s more, many are estimated to go extinct within just decades. Biodiversity is so much more than the understanding of different plants and animals; it is the life support system for humanity. 

Biodiversity underpins our global food system, ensures fresh soil and water, distributes fresh water, sustains good air quality, provides pollination and pest control, regulates the climate, reduces the effect of natural hazards, and absorbs carbon emissions. Additionally, it offers medicines and raw materials. It is for all these reasons that the World Economic Forum has ranked biodiversity loss in its top five risks for two years in a row in its Global Risks Reports

The bottom line is that businesses are dependent on biodiversity. While this level of dependency varies across industries, the loss of biodiversity is a major risk for all. Biodiversity loss can directly impact businesses by disrupting their supply chains. The destruction of the natural world will affect the bottom lines. For instance, through the disruption of commodity supply chains, reduced food supplies and fish stocks, the loss of potential new sources of raw materials and medicine, and economic losses from natural hazards. 

Why biodiversity conservation is so important

Now that you understand why businesses should care about biodiversity as a whole, let’s talk about why biodiversity conservation is so important. Put simply, biodiversity conservation protects animal, plant, genetic, and microbial resources for agriculture, food production, and ecosystem functions like recycling nutrients, fertilising the soil, controlling erosion, pollinating trees and crops, and regulating disease and pests.

Similarly, unsustainable use of wild species and agricultural production for fuel or food can reduce biodiversity. Biodiversity conservation is also essential for poverty reduction and economic growth. Since the majority of the world’s poor reside in rural areas, their livelihoods depend on water, forests, crops, marshes, and pastures. Additionally, biodiversity conservation can help us address the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Conserving habitats can lessen the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air. Protecting and conserving mangroves and other coastal ecosystems, for example, can minimise the disastrous effects of climate change, like storm surges and flooding.  Initiatives that lessen the vulnerability of ecosystems and species to climate change effects can protect vital ecosystem services like pollination or food production, water and air purification, and carbon sequestration.

Finally, contested or scarce natural resources are generally at the core of conflicts. Harming biodiversity and mismanaging natural resources can enhance instability and poverty. Assisting individuals and communities to secure rights to utilise natural resources and engaging local communities in managing them responsibly can limit or prevent conflict and offer opportunities for economic growth. There are many other reasons why biodiversity conservation is important and why we should prioritise reducing biodiversity loss. 

How can businesses help prevent biodiversity loss?

Businesses must also think about the indirect risks of biodiversity loss, such as financial, regulatory, and reputational. The good news is businesses can be biodiversity and nature champions by creating metrics to assess their interaction with the planet and how this impacts the natural world and biodiversity. 

Assess how your business impacts nature and biodiversity

This should include looking at impacts like water use, air pollution, solid waste, land-use change, and greenhouse emissions. When you comprehend the value nature provides to your business, you can prioritise actions to mitigate the impact of biodiversity loss and determine sourcing and supply chain practices that ensure more positive results for nature. 

Engage in conservation efforts

Businesses can also play an important role in protecting biodiversity through conservation efforts. In particular, external conservation efforts whereby they support new initiatives to protect biodiversity. There are many non-profit organisations with such initiatives that enable businesses to finance restoration projects. 

Determine opportunities and risks associated with biodiversity

It is important to note biodiversity is not all about risks, there are lots of opportunities open to businesses that choose to act responsibly in respect of their impact on biodiversity. Therefore, businesses should evaluate business opportunities and risks related to biodiversity and nature. 

Carrying out this evaluation can result in actions that help you comprehend the loss of biodiversity on your business and financial outcomes. One tool that enables businesses to do this is the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). This can be utilised to manage and evaluate nature-related risks.

Set goals and spread the word

Following on from the above, it is then vital to measure and set targets. You should set goals for freshwater use, land use, and ecosystem integrity. Setting targets is vital to ensure you are having a positive impact and reducing biodiversity loss. 

There are many useful tools that businesses can use to set and measure their biodiversity goals. Following setting targets, you must commit publicly to those goals too. This could include raising awareness of your aims, but also other commitments like signing corporate pledges. 

Don’t rule out nature-based solutions

Emerging businesses and well-established companies can consider ‘nature-based solutions’. They originate with the concept that businesses can restore nature, and adapt to and mitigate climate change while still supporting the interests and lifestyles of local people. 

By doing this, organisations can innovate and transform to regenerate and restore landscapes. Some examples of nature-based solutions focused on reducing biodiversity loss include ecosystem restoration, management, and conservation efforts like community-based forest management practices or tree planting. 

Integrate biodiversity credits into strategies

Biodiversity credits are a quantifiable, verifiable, and tradeable financial instrument which rewards positive biodiversity and nature outcomes through the creation and sale of either ocean or land-based biodiversity units over a fixed period. They offer a means to incentivise biodiversity conservation efforts, providing a crucial link between economic development and ecological preservation. Through biodiversity credits, businesses can support positive nature outcomes aligned with consumer preferences, keep pace with regulatory changes, and secure access to competitive finance. 

Business opportunities from focusing on biodiversity conservation

Risk management remains a primary reason to address biodiversity problems in business. However, there are also several opportunities for the private sector to capitalise on biodiversity issues. Changing consumer expectations and demands and national and international legislative drivers are contributing to the rapid increase of new market opportunities for businesses to capture value from biodiversity-related services and goods, while simultaneously offering vital public goods through social and biodiversity conservation advantages. 

Biodiversity-based markets are expected to expand quickly and have the most significant impacts in emerging markets, which are home to a major percentage of the world’s threatened and unique biodiversity. Businesses can take advantage of fantastic chances to collaborate with development organisations active in these sectors and profit from alternative financing sources for conservation. Always keep in mind that good enterprises built on biodiversity principles must first and foremost be good businesses.

Strong business capabilities and fundamentals must underpin any business activities targeting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, or partnerships with local communities. Businesses can access three kinds of markets to gain opportunities that come from business activities that promote biodiversity maintenance and protection. These include markets for sustainably produced goods, consumer markets for non-consumptive uses of biodiversity, and new markets for ecosystem services. However, ultimately, the opportunities will depend on each business. 

Summary

The functioning of our planet depends greatly on biodiversity, and the business case should imply that prioritising biodiversity is as essential as reducing our carbon emissions. Protecting animals and plants and stopping climate change are and should be considered linked goals. 

Whilst reducing carbon emissions is essential, so is recovering species. It is all possible, but businesses will have to be dedicated and committed to reducing biodiversity loss through maintenance and conservation efforts. Biodiversity is paramount for any successful business, and as a result, they have a major role to play in protecting it.

Share via:

Latest Insights

Business spotlight - Cpl

Business Spotlights: Cpl

Explore how Cpl is advancing its sustainability journey, focusing on Scope 3 emissions and impactful strategies to foster a greener future.

Diploma in Business Sustainability

Want to gain a comprehensive understanding of sustainability best practices and get equipped with the practical knowledge needed to lead sustainability initiatives at your organisation?

My cart
Your cart is empty.

Looks like you haven't made a choice yet.