Business and Biodiversity

Biodiversity Offsets

Business and biodiversity in South Africa Photo: IUCN-Rachel Asante-Owusu
Providing guidance on biodiversity offsets

Biodiversity offsets are a measurable way to compensate for residual impacts in development projects. While biodiversity offsets are increasingly being used by governments and companies, an IUCN study found current efforts to mitigate impacts were proving insufficient to reduce biodiversity decline. 

Biodiversity offsets and other mechanisms in the mitigation hierarchy have the potential to be a driver for enhanced conservation and the creation of new protected areas of high conservation value. However, the stakes are high with several potential pitfalls. If offsetting gains currency and is translated into corporate, financial and regulatory policy with unresolved but fundamental knowledge gaps, it could undermine established approaches to managing biodiversity risk. 

Given the general lack of agreement about the state of knowledge regarding offset implementation, and an on-going debate around fundamental issues about what conservation can gain from biodiversity offsetting, IUCN believed there was a pressing need for authoritative, balanced guidance to help conservation organizations, governments and companies reach common ground on the associated risks and opportunities,

The result: IUCN develped the first-ever global policy on biodiversity offsets, which was adopted by IUCN Members at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016.

Following the development of the IUCN policy on biodiversity offsets, IUCN and The Biodiversity Consultancy (TBC) launched the first-ever global biodiversity offset policy database in 2017. The Global Inventory on Biodiversity Offset Policies (GIBOP) contains 198 countries’ publicly available national environmental laws and legislation with regard to offsets provisions, as well as country summaries and links to relevant documents.

Please go to the Resources section for more information and to read other background papers on this issue. 

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