Business and Biodiversity


IUCN and RWE examine the risks and opportunities of biodiversity management.

Objective of the engagement

Germany’s energy utility, RWE and IUCN established a working relationship in 2013 with the aim of further integrating protection of biological diversity into the corporate business decisions of the company, and triggered broader company-wide action on diversity. The engagement came to an end at the end of March 2015, culminating in the publishing of a report on the Risks and opportunities in biodiversity management and related stakeholder involvement of the RWE Hambach Lignite Mine. Please go to the Resources section of the website to read more about IUCN's work with the Extractives sector, or download the report in both English and German.

The scope of the report

The mining report was not intended as a review and/or systematic appraisal of the biodiversity management of the Hambach Mine. Rather, it formed part of a joint undertaking by IUCN and RWE to provide a basis for the development of a company-wide strategic approach on the management of biodiversity and related stakeholder needs. Furthermore, it should be noted that the report was restricted to the issues of biodiversity risks posed by lignite mining and the opportunities of well-planned and implemented rehabilitation strategies. It did not seek to contribute to the fundamental debate about Germany’s energy policies or the long-term impacts of lignite mining on society and the environment in general.

Results – at the level of the RWE Hambach Mine

The report identified the strengths of the RWE biodiversity management at the Hambach mine, including excellent biodiversity outcomes in habitat restoration, cultivation and species management and highly professional and dedicated RWE employees as well as weaknesses in RWE processes, for example a lack of a discernible strategic approach and formulated overall guiding biodiversity vision for the company, including the Hambach mine. 

The report triggered action more widely in RWE. At the Hambach site, a separate management response to the report was developed and is now available in English and German.

Results – at the RWE corporate level

At the RWE corporate level, IUCN facilitated two internal workshops in RWE, bringing together for the first time biodiversity experts and champions in the organisation to work together to develop a biodiversity policy to be presented to the RWE board later in 2015. The biodiversity group of RWE already met independently in April 2015.

For the purpose of the first workshop, a framing document was produced and a summary briefing for business developed called, A strategic approach on biodiversity: the what, why and how. This publication is, however, relevant for other companies too.

Next steps

This engagement has now ended and will not be followed up, in part due to requests from a sub-set of the IUCN German membership for it to end. However, RWE says it will continue to embed a more strategic approach to biodiversity into its organisation.

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