Mainstreaming biodiversity and strengthening business engagements at IUCN Business Week 2018

More than 55 staff members and over 20 business partners exchanged around the theme “Catalysing business engagement and investment for sustainable development” during IUCN Business Week 2018 10-14 September, at IUCN headquarters in Gland.

Business Week 2018

The overall goal of the meeting was to align IUCN’s efforts to effectively support business in mainstreaming biodiversity and deliver on the changes needed to meet global goals on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

A number of business representatives presented their respective approaches and challenges to mainstreaming biodiversity in their companies. They noted the benefits of top-down and bottom-up approaches to advance their biodiversity agendas, as well as the importance of making a strong business case that outlines the risks of not taking action. When discussing on the 2020 IUCN World Conservation Congress, participants explored how this quadrennial event could be used as a “springboard” to deliver on IUCN’s Programme and inspire greater business engagement. There was a strong interest to participate and co-create sessions, where possible, with other stakeholders. Business also stated they would like to help lead on non-state commitments that can contribute to the SDGs and biodiversity-related targets.

Engagement is involving all the stakeholders because businesses have a footprint that goes beyond the boundaries. Engaging with non-State actors, involving communities, knowledge partners, and understanding the importance of biodiversity and overall value that ecosystems bring: that is one area where all businesses must invest for a good future”, says Manish Mishra, General Manager at Tata Steel.

The results from the workshop were immediately seen : from Tata Steel already initiating plans to scale up current commitments within their company to Rio Tinto confirming to integrate the lessons from the meeting into their strategy; and Shell’s offer to help involve bring other companies to the table and L’Occitane’s plans to explore new ideas related to sourcing and plastics. The business partners also expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to engage more with other IUCN programmes and to learn more about what their peers were doing on biodiversity.

My key take-away from Business Week is that we really need to collaborate across conservation and natural capital, as well as protected areas”, says Rosie Dunscombe, Technical Director at the Natural Capital Coalition, “We need to collaborate across all of those to gain access to the aims, such as the sustainable development goals, and also we need to include that across business, across policies and across the whole society.”

A global gathering

More than 55 staff members from 9 regions (Asia, East and Southern Africa, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania, South America, Washington, DC and West and Central Africa), participated, along with representatives from many IUCN Programmes (Economics and Knowledge, Ecosystems Management, Forests and Climate, Marine, Protected Areas, Species and Water, as well as from Global Policy, Strategic Partnerships and the Union Development Group, two Commissions (CEM and SSC), two National Committee (French and Netherlands), and the Ramsar Convention.

In addition, on 11-12 September, several of IUCN’s partners joined the meeting, including representatives from Aditya Birla Group, Bank J. Sara Sarasin, Ciments Calcia, DowDuPont, EDF, Enel, Engie, Global Agribusiness Alliance, L’Occitane, Nespresso, PlastiCircular, Quantis, Rio Tinto, Shell, Tata Steel, The Biodiversity Consultancy, Veolia, Verra, as well as from the Natural Capital Coalition, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture.

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