IUCN's goal is to ensure landscape planning incorporates a mitigation hierarchy approach with a net gain target for biodiversity. This approach is key to delivering on the 2020 Aichi Targets for biodiversity conservation and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
There is a growing awareness amongst governments and the private sector that conservation and development need to go hand in hand. Continued development is essential for economic growth and for much-needed progress on poverty, health, education and other global challenges. At the same time, biodiversity impacts are often an inevitable consequence of development projects and operations. Given this context, IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme works with governments and the private sector to development models and strategies that offer economically and environmentally sustainable solutions to business related biodiversity loss and degradation.
For example, for 12 years, IUCN has worked with one of the world's largest mining companies, Rio Tinto, following their ambitious and sector-leading commitment to achieve a "Net Positive Impact" (NPI) on biodiversity or Biodiversity Net Gain. The company promised that their operations would go beyond a "No Net Loss" target and ensure that biodiversity ultimately benefits as a result of their activities. Through this collaboration, an NPI Protocol -- or assurance tool -- has been developed and tested at several sites, and now this framework will be shared with other extractive companies to help them assess their progress towards an NPI target.
In a related effort, IUCN, Rio Tinto Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Ltd and The Nature Conservancy joined forces with the International Finance Corporation under the auspices of the NPI Alliance, which confirmed that companies adopting NPI need to take a systematic and scientific approach to evaluate their biodiverstiy impacts, establish biodiversity conservation goals and implement actions to achieve a net gain for biodivesity over time. In late 2015, the Alliance (which has now disbanded) produced two papers -- NPI for biodiversity: the conservation case and NPI for biodiversity: the business case.
Increasingly, businesses in other sectors are also interested in the potential benefits of adopting an NPI or Biodiversity Net Gain approach. In 2015, an IUCN-led study explored how commercial agriculture and forestry production could reduce global biodiversity loss by applying these innovative approaches. The report, No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact: Approaches for Biodiversity, found that under certain conditions, applying No Net Loss (NNL) and Net Positive Impact (NPI) approaches to agriculture and forestry landscapes associated with companies’ operations and supply chains could have a greater impact in reducing biodiversity loss than in the extractives or infrastructure sectors.
More recently, IUCN has developed a draft global policy on biodiversity offsets, as well as guidance on the implementation of the mitigation hierarchy. (See the Biodiversity Offsets section.)
Going forward, IUCN will draw on its vast network of government and NGO Members, and nearly 15,000 volunteer experts, to promote the uptake of a Biodiversity Net Gain approach by providing technical support, new knowledge products and tools, as well as a platform for sharing lessons learned. The aim is to help business successfully achieve a net gain for nature in their operations and at a landscape level, which in turn will contribute to the global goals for biodiversity and sustainable development.