Business and Biodiversity

Our Strategy

Engaging with global business

Over the past years, IUCN has gained experience in business engagements, demonstrating that companies can change the way they operate in a manner that benefits biodiversity and the lives of the people who rely on it.

The Business Engagement Strategy launched in 2012, builds on IUCN's experience in working with business. The Strategy aims to encourage transformational and demonstrable change at the company and sectoral level in how biodiversity is valued and managed by businesses in order to conserve and restore biodiversity and to ensure that biodiversity benefits are shared equitably.

The Strategy’s main objective is that business practices at landscape and seascape levels are transformed to generate benefits for biodiversity and natural resource‐dependent livelihoods. 

We take action in three interconnected areas:

  1. Help businesses to adopt policies on the ground that avoid and minimize impacts on biodiversity, seek opportunities for biodiversity conservation and generate benefits for people who depend on natural resources.
  2. Promote sustainability standards and safeguards in companies’ sourcing activities that have a positive impact on biodiversity and the livelihoods of local people.
  3. Support public and financial sector policies that integrate biodiversity and livelihood values in business decision-making.


Operational Guidelines for Business Engagement

The IUCN Operational Guidelines for Business Engagement offer critical support to the implementation of the IUCN Business Engagement Strategy, which provides a coherent framework for influencing business practices and a clear reference point as to the level of ambition expected from business engagements.

To have a meaningful impact on the ground may require IUCN to have some exposure to risk linked to high impact sectors. However, the Operational Guidelines provide a consistent approach to the management of risks associated with engaging business, as well as outline the opportunities between the different types of engagement.

These Operational Guidelines (version 3) were endorsed by the IUCN Council in October 2015. The Guidelines are available to IUCN Members and Partners through the Union Portal. Otherwise, they are available upon request - please contact: [email protected].


Applicability of the Guidelines

The Operational Guidelines apply to all engagements, from programmatic engagement aimed at transforming business practices, as per the IUCN Business Engagement Strategy, including funding (relating to sponsorship, licensing, donations); commercial use of IUCN data and procurement.

The Operational Guidelines shall be implemented by the IUCN Secretariat and IUCN Commissions. Also, National/Regional Committees of IUCN Members are strongly encouraged to follow the Operational Guidelines.

For joint IUCN partnerships, the relevant governance structures should determine which guidelines for business engagement are applied. Where other guidelines do not exist, the IUCN Operational Guidelines should serve as a reference point for decision making.

The four key Operational Guidelines for Business Engagement

The four key Guidelines that apply regardless of the business engagement type are:

Guideline 1: Align concept to relevant strategy/policy and consult

Guideline 2: Conduct a risk and opportunity assessment

Guideline 3: Draft an appropriate contract

Guideline 4: Disclose the engagement

Read the full summary of IUCN's Operational Guidelines for Business Engagement here.


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