Business actors and IPBES

Business is becoming increasingly aware of the need to manage the risks and opportunities associated with its links to biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES). As environmental externalities are increasingly being brought onto balance sheets, knowledge of, and data on, these BES-related issues is becoming more important than ever before. IPBES will be able to provide business – and other stakeholders – with reliable data on BES, facilitating more informed decisions and better outcomes for the world’s biodiversity and ecosystems.

IUCN – through its Business and Biodiversity Programme and in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), an IUCN Member – has been actively promoting business involvement in IPBES as part of its Business Engagement Strategy.

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Business links to BES

Ultimately, all businesses depend, either directly or indirectly, on BES. Businesses rely on a variety of biodiversity products (e.g. food, fibre, biofuel) and ecosystem functions (e.g. climate regulation, flood control, water purification and waste treatment) for their operations.

The flip side of these dependencies is the impact that all businesses have on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Their impacts stem from, for example, their use of resources such as paper and water, their carbon emissions or energy consumption.

Risks and opportunities associated with BES issues

Businesses can also be important actors in finding solutions for BES issues. Pioneering businesses have been innovating to create ecosystem-friendly markets and develop more sustainable technologies. The risks and opportunities associated with BES issues include:

  • Operational: as companies seek to improve their operations efficiency – e.g. by finding ways to reduce their use of water or their production of waste water;
  • Regulatory and legal: as companies need to comply with existing regulations – e.g. by valuing environmental damage in order to inform compensation payments;
  • Reputational: as companies seek to maintain their brand, image and relationships with their customers – e.g. by demonstrating their commitment to achieving a net positive impact on biodiversity, based on robust monitoring of such impacts;
  • Market and product: as companies seek to respond to market trends and address consumer preferences – e.g. by identifying products with a high carbon footprint and seeking ways to reduce this footprint;
  • Financing: as companies try and secure new sources of capital – e.g. by quantifying and reducing negative impacts on ecosystem services, businesses can comply with green funds’ environmental requirements.

Assessing and managing these risks and opportunities requires relevant, reliable and up-to-date information and data on the precise BES-related issues facing the business in question. The difficulty in accessing or generating this information is a very real concern of many businesses. This is where IPBES can come in, as a valuable, credible and globally relevant source of good quality information on these very issues. 

 

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