IUCN guides the cement and aggregates sector to better manage biodiversity

IUCN, in collaboration with industry associations in the cement and aggregates sector, has launched a new guide to encourage companies to responsibly manage biodiversity throughout their operations.

Expert Panel Visit to Holcim site in Costa Rica Photo: Maria Ana Borges

The guide - Integrated Biodiversity Management System - was developed over four years by an independent panel of biodiversity and ecosystem experts in consultation with industry practitioners and other stakeholders. Following numerous visits to quarries in several countries, including Spain, Belgium and China, the panel created a procedure for adopting a systematic approach to safeguarding biodiversity on cement and aggregate landholdings.

Aggregates and concrete are among the most used resources on Earth, second only to water. Extraction of raw materials – such as limestone, shale and sand – can have significant environmental impacts, posing major risks to biodiversity and ecosystems.

“Due to the nature of their operations, cement and aggregate companies can have important impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, and with that comes a responsibility to protect biodiversity on industry landholdings,” said Gerard Bos, Director of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme. “Through integrated biodiversity management, these companies have the opportunity to become biodiversity stewards both in and around their extraction sites.”

By implementing careful biodiversity management, cement and aggregates companies have an important opportunity to improve their ability to secure permits and maintain a social license to operate among communities surrounding their operations. The Integrated Biodiversity Management System has been developed primarily for sustainability and environment managers responsible for implementing company-wide systems for biodiversity management. It is also useful for site managers and managers of small to medium enterprises with extraction operations.

The guide is centred on the development of a policy with clear targets that should shape all company actions on biodiversity. It provides an overview of key steps for cement and aggregates companies to take, including identifying risks and opportunities, prioritising the level of management required at each extraction site, establishing data requirements and maintaining and enhancing biodiversity according to the level of risk.

The development of the Integrated Biodiversity Management System is supported by and will be disseminated in collaboration with: the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI); CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association; FICEM, the Inter-American Cement Federation; and UEPG, the European Aggregates Association.

The guide can be downloaded here.

For more information on IUCN’s work with the cement and aggregates sector, click here.

For more information, please contact:

Maria Ana Borges, Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, mariaana.borges@iucn.org and Tel.: +41 22 999 0186

Ewa Magiera, Global Communications, ewa.magiera@iucn.org and Tel.: +41 22 999 0346; Mobile: +41 76 505 33 78

Supporting quotes

“The CSI fosters endeavours of cement companies to maximise their work on biodiversity management and thus warmly welcomes this joint initiative,” said Philippe Fonta, Managing Director of the WBCSD-CSI. “In parallel, CSI has developed a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) guidance document, as a resource for cement companies working on site-specific biodiversity management planning. By providing a holistic perspective on biodiversity management in company policy development and decision-making operations, the IUCN’s Integrated Biodiversity Management System thus complements the CSI guidance.”

“Compatibility between quarrying activities and biodiversity is achievable through correct resource management during the quarrying phases in the cement sector. For example, a range of studies conducted in several European countries have demonstrated that correctly managed quarries are able to provide habitats to some protected species. In addition, proper planning and rehabilitation can positively contribute to biodiversity conservation,” said Koen Coppenholle, Chief Executive of CEMBUREAU.

“In line with its commitment towards the global cement agenda and the region's sustainable development, the Inter-American Cement Federation – FICEM – actively promotes and shares initiatives like this guide across Latin America, which provides the cement and concrete industry with practical tools to operate in an increasingly environment-respectful manner,” said Maria Jose Garcia, Director General of FICEM.

“The European Aggregates Industry with its 25,000 extraction sites across Europe has great potential to further contribute to biodiversity, in particular reaching out to the many Small and Medium Enterprises among the 15,000 companies. Simple and cost-effective tools will help big and small operators to safeguard biodiversity,” said Dirk Fincke, Secretary General of the European Aggregates Association. “UEPG is pleased to continue its fruitful cooperation with IUCN on biodiversity which began in 2007.” 

Work area: 
South America
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