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Loss of Biodiversity is a business crisis. What can businesses do about it?

United Nations Environment Programme defines Biodiversity as “the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms”.[1] It includes elements of nature at ecosystem, species, and genetic levels upon which the planet depends on. Humans depend on biodiversity for food, water, and medicines including nearly 70% of drugs used for cancer treatment. [2] The level of biodiversity often indicates the health of an ecosystem.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity due to human and industrial activity. While it is well known that loss of biodiversity threatens human welfare, businesses may not realize that loss of biodiversity also affects them adversely.

How does loss of biodiversity impact businesses?

Businesses rely upon biodiversity for their day-to-day activities. Loss of biodiversity disrupts the natural, social and human capital which businesses depend upon.

Biodiversity ensures a natural system wherein processes such as waste decomposition, water purification and crop pollination take place. These natural processes provide businesses with quality, clean raw materials and resources.

Loss of biodiversity therefore destabilizes this system leading to poor quality raw materials, resources, and supply chain disruptions for businesses. Several food industries can potentially collapse due to poor quality crops.

Biodiversity is strongly linked with climate resilience as it offers carbon sequestration.  Biodiversity loss therefore leads to removal of carbon absorption systems present in nature. This in turn contributes towards climate change and increases climate risks and costs for businesses.

Poor quality food, unsanitary water, extreme climatic conditions lead to social unrest and anxiety. This in turn adversely affects stakeholders such as employees, customers and communities. Progress on several Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by businesses which address hunger, health, clean water, climate action, life on land and water etc. is severely impeded as a result. 

According to the World Economic Forum, more than half of the World’s GDP depends on nature. [3] Therefore, high business costs are linked to loss of biodiversity.

What can businesses do to help in conservation of biodiversity?

Every problem has an opportunity. The biodiversity crisis also offers opportunities for businesses.

Businesses should realize that by considering biodiversity protection in their strategies, they will only make their value chain more resilient. They should also recognize that biodiversity is intertwined with climate change and that preservation of biodiversity will lead to climate resilience. Therefore, the first step for businesses would be to make an assessment on their impact on biodiversity.

More than 400 businesses and financial institutions from 56 countries have supported mandatory biodiversity assessments and disclosures by 2030 at COP15, the UN biodiversity conference held in December 2022. [4] Now is the time for businesses to start making assessments of their impact on biodiversity.

Based on such assessments, businesses can create unique strategies to reduce their impact on biodiversity. For example, if a business’s activities are linked to forest, it can focus and work towards having minimum impact on forest biodiversity. Businesses can set targets aligned with local regulations and strategies such as the EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 to monitor and manage their progress.

Businesses can also collaborate with other stakeholders dedicated to preservation of biodiversity. For example, the sourcing arm of British supermarket chain ASDA works with local government institutions, scientists, schools, and communities to help preserve biodiversity in Costa Rica through reforestation. [5]

In conclusion

Biodiversity loss has a direct impact on businesses. Businesses should take into account their impact on biodiversity in their strategies and take action accordingly to reduce their impact. This will improve their value chain resilience and help contribute towards climate resilience.

Forest is an important natural source of raw material for Horizon. Horizon’s paper products are manufactured using raw material sourced from responsibly managed forest only which ensure ecological preservation. Our products are recyclable, renewable, reusable and biodegradable – creating positive impact on nature. Through responsible use of wood biomass for renewable energy production, Horizon also contributes to forests’ value chain and phasing-out of fossil fuels.    

References:

[1] UNEP and Biodiversity. UN Environment Programme (UNEP). UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Available at: https://www.unep.org/unep-and-biodiversity (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

[2] Why we need to fear the loss of biodiversity as much as climate change (2022) YouTube. Deutsche Welle (DW). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR9YDrrYAqA (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

[3] Half of World’s GDP Moderately or Highly Dependent on Nature, says New report (2020) World Economic Forum. 19 January 2020. World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/press/2020/01/half-of-world-s-gdp-moderately-or-highly-dependent-on-nature-says-new-report/ (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

[4] Make it mandatory. Business For Nature. Available at: https://www.businessfornature.org/make-it-mandatory-campaign (Accessed: February 20, 2023).

[5] ASDA: co-operating for biodiversity. Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. University of Cambridge. Available at: https://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/business-action/business-nature/natural-capital-impact-group/doing-business-with-nature/business-and-biodiversity/pages/asda-cooperating-for-biodiversity (Accessed: February 20, 2023).