We were delighted to announce the launch our first community of practice (CoP) in January 2023. This CoP will meet regularly throughout the year and focus on a few key outputs.

Our first CoP is small and multi-sector, comprising a mixture of Irish semi-state, private and academic organisations. The CoP participants share a common interest in learning more about transitioning to a nature-positive mode of operation. They are facing the same challenges and striving to reach similar goals.

Our CoP members are poised to share, contribute and help each other as we navigate this relatively uncharted territory.

The CoP objectives are clear. We aim to:

  • Increase education and awareness of businesses impacts and dependencies on nature within the group
  • Support each other and collaborate effectively
  • Encourage through discussion and sharing
  • Integrate learnings into business strategy and operations

We want to guide each member organisation through the process of assessment, goal setting and business model evolution.

We are looking forward to delving into the different frameworks that will help our members assess their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity.

BFBI Platform Lead Lucy Gaffney writes: It was a great privilege to attend COP15 at the  Palais des Congrès in Montréal for the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties last December. This was the first COP I’ve ever been to so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

The trip was funded by the wonderful team at the National Parks and Wildlife Service and facilitated by our colleagues at the CoHab Initiative. I was representing Business for Biodiversity Ireland with the primary aims of learning, networking and building on our existing links within the Business and Biodiversity space.

I focused on attending sessions that were a part of the Business and Biodiversity Forum on the 12th and 13th of December. These sessions covered topics like ‘Greening Value Chains’ and ‘Valuing Nature in Decision-Making’. The Finance-centred day on the 14th saw Mark Carney of GFANZ take the stage to talk about making the most of the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework for financial decision-making.

Woman and two men smile  at event

Lucy at Cop in Canada in December with Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert and, right, EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform’s Yann Verstraeten

I had the great pleasure of meeting Ryan Gellert, the CEO of Patagonia at an inspiring side event detailing the collaboration between the governments of Albania, Greece and Macedonia and their commitment to conserve the Vjosa-Aoos river system, Europe’s last wild river. I also got the chance to speak to Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan and discuss his continued support of the Business for Biodiversity Ireland platform.

5 key takeaways from COP15:


1. Harmful subsidies need to be identified and phased out (GBF, Target 18). Governments are still spending in excess of $500bn annually on subsidies for agriculture, forestry and fishing that incentivise environmentally harmful activities. The CBD called for governments to assess their potentially harmful subsidies and the OECD produced guidelines for this but governments were non responsive. We need to identify and reform these subsidies to incentivise nature protection and restoration, ensuring that key stakeholders are strongly engaged in this process.


2. Consumers must understand their role in the biodiversity crisis. We need to adopt a whole-of-society approach to addressing biodiversity loss and this translates to an immediate need to urgently and accurately inform the general public about the key issues (as we would in any other emergency) , how consumption behaviour compounds the crisis and how information and a shift in consumer demand will be a significant catalyst for change.


3. Data and finance are available to enable the nature restoration agenda. There is lots of nature data out there but it is scattered and fragmented. There is an abundance of finance out there but it is being channelled into the wrong places. The funding gap for biodiversity is estimated at around $700bn per year, less than the average global spend on soft drinks or the annual spend of the US military. There is work to do to create good financial flows but the capital is there.


4. We need to disrupt and transform the way we do business (GBF Target 15). Through mandatory assessment and disclosure of impacts and dependencies, meaningful biodiversity strategies and science-based targets. Voluntary action is not enough, action needs to mandated. Businesses need to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, rather than waiting around for the perfect metric. There will be a certain amount of learning-by-doing and businesses need to be courageous and innovative in their approach. Sustainability will redefine what it means to have a competitive advantage in the next decade.


5. Our current food systems are fragile. The way we use our land and grow our food has resulted in 3bn people being undernourished, 1bn people being malnourished (from eating poor quality processed foods) and all the while 30% of our food is wasted. Our current systems are not capable of feeding the global population of 8bn. There will be 9bn people to feed in 2037 and if the food systems are not transformed, there will be a massive global food crisis in the next 15–20 years. Our food systems are subject to water and thermal stresses and we have no mitigation or transition plan in place to deal with the extreme problems that lie ahead.

Finally, delighted to have met Kevin O’Sullivan, Science Editor from the Irish Times where he included quotes from some of our discussions in Montreal. You can read the article HERE

 

Day 2 of the Business and Biodiversity forum of COP15 in Montreal – and a long day of sessions and panel discussions about the role of government got me thinking. The #MakeitMandatory campaign focuses on Target 15 of the Global Biodiversity Framework and creating a driver from government level to mandate the assessment and disclosure of nature-related risks for all businesses.

How will businesses feel about this? Will these regulations be met with contempt?

It is my view, having run my own business for 15 years, that businesses won’t mobilise unless they have to. We need to discover the key that will unlock that motivation. I’m not sure that top-down government-mandated requirements alone will be enough.

The Irish government declared a biodiversity emergency in 2019. But it doesn’t really feel like we’re in a state of emergency. Most people are simply unaware of the deteriorating situation, or if they are, they feel powerless to address it.

The Irish government needs to treat this issue like the emergency that it is and invest money in enhancing awareness in the general public, much like they did for COVID-19 or how they create awareness about an upcoming referendum or census. 

 

We need a broad, mainstreamed advertising and awareness campaign, run on TV, radio, social media and print media to inform the public and mobilise their inherent power to catalyse change.

 

The people of Ireland need to understand their role in this crisis. We consume irresponsibly, but we don’t realise it. An awareness campaign would help create a bottom-up driver from consumer level. A demand for change. A demand for more responsible business, more nature-friendly products.

How would businesses feel about this? Will these consumer demands be met with respect? With urgency? Knowing that if products and services don’t align with evolving consumer sentiment, can the business expect to survive? Or go extinct?

The top-down regulation from government and the bottom-up change in consumer demand will create a space in between. And this is where the magic happens.

 

Lucy Gaffney – Business for Biodiversity Ireland

COP15 in under way in Montreal, Canada and Ireland has sent a delegation to attend these negotiations that will hopefully deliver a plan to address global biodiversity loss.

The talks are centred around the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which consists of 21 targets that will not only support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but will serve to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

We have eight years to halt the destruction of our natural world or it might reach a state where is becomes beyond repair. So why is COP15 and the GBF important for business in Ireland?

Of the 21 GBF targets, the business community should be tuned into two specifically:


Target 15: All businesses (public and private, large, medium and small) assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, from local to global, and progressively reduce negative impacts, by at least half and increase positive impacts, reducing biodiversity-related risks to businesses and moving towards the full sustainability of extraction and production practices, sourcing and supply chains, and use and disposal.

This essentially means that all Irish businesses, from your local hairdresser to global multinationals operating within the state will now have to understand how their actions and activities impact on nature. How do they contribute to pollution? How are they using land? Does the business contribute to or facilitate the introduction of invasive species? What is their contribution to climate change? Does the business drive the over-exploitation of natural resources?

They will also have to appreciate how their business depends on the natural world, and how the degradation of nature may pose risks to their ability to continue operating. Furthermore, Irish businesses will be expected to develop a strategy and action plan to reduce their negative impacts by half and start the healing process by investing in nature restoration.

Target 18: Redirect, repurpose, reform or eliminate incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least US$500billion per year, including all of the most harmful subsidies, and ensure that incentives, including public and private economic and regulatory incentives, are either positive or neutral for biodiversity.

In 2019, the Irish Government spent €4.1bn on environmentally damaging subsidies (Lee, 2019). These included subsidising the use of fossil fuels to the tune of €2.5bn, and €1.5bn to support agricultural activities that could cause significant environmental damage.

For example, rather than providing low income households with fossil fuel subsidies, that money would be much better spent retrofitting older properties to become more energy efficient. Most of the environmentally damaging subsidies are disguised as zero or low tax rates which incentivise the use of a potentially damaging commodity like chemical fertilisers.

Follow our various social media channels for more updates from COP15, its outcomes and aftermath.

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Business for Biodiversity Ireland (BFBI) was invited to participate in the organisation of this year’s in-person and semi-virtual European Business and Nature Summit (EBNS) which was held in Brussels from 18th-19th October 2022.

The Platform was responsible for developing and delivering three parallel sessions and the summit closing plenary. The summit was themed to reflect the recent framework as released by Business for Nature and other partners earlier this year. It was structured with three thematic blocks of parallel sessions, Assess, Commit and Transform. BFBI organised a session in each of these blocks.

 

ASSESS

SME Financing for Biodiversity

This session brought together speakers from the OECD, the Italian Sustainable Finance Forum (ItaSIF) and Middlesex University Business School.

 

 

COMMIT

Finding a common language:

Translating biodiversity targets into KPIs for business and finance

This panel comprised experts looking at KPIs from different perspectives.

Two SMEs, Nature Metrics (Dr Sam Lacey) and BeeOdiversity (Michael van Cutsem), who specialise in gathering ecosystem data and metrics discussed their methodology, the value of the data they gather, and how these data can be used to design KPIs.

We had a perspective from the finance world and Benoit van den Hove (EuroNext) on how the creation of a biodiversity index can help bring nature into financial decision-making.

Finally, Valerio Scartezzini (Etifor) described how their methodology helps SMEs to create their own metrics using the MARC system.

TRANSFORM

The vital role of nature-based solutions in a nature-positive economy

Daniela Rizzi (ICLEI) opened this discussion with insights from the recently published paper with the same name.

This was followed by David Young (Broadway Initiative) discussing the importance of delivering high integrity markets to scale up nature-based solutions.

We had the perspective of a global financial institution from Sébastien Soleille (BNP Paribas) who talked about the concrete actions they are taking such as asking their clients for full traceability of biodiversity impacts in their supply chain by 2025.

A perspective of global Big Food from Owen Bethell (Nestlé) described how nature-based solutions (NbS) have influenced their supply chain and how NbS have complemented the work they are doing on climate change. He also highlighted the importance of social justice and the need to address these issues simultaneously.

Summit Closing Plenary

Katherine Tubb (Scotland: The Big Picture) took us on a visual journey to show what can be achieved when rewilding projects are properly resourced and highlighted the power of partnership.

Mieke Siebers (Foundation for Sustainable Development) finished with an inspiring speech asking how we can turn these targets into triumphs, what does that look like and how can we as individuals make that happen.

Key Takeaways

Woven into each thematic session and the plenaries was the need for transparency and disclosure. The need for mandatory disclosure of businesses impacts and dependencies on nature was highlighted throughout the summit, with particular reference to this being hugely important in terms of COP15 and the need for it to be included in the final actions of the Global Biodiversity Framework.

We look forward to following the discussion to Montreal in December!

 

 

After a phenomenal week in Brussels as co-hosts of the European Business and Nature Summit (EBNS), I noted that there was a distinct lack of attendance by the Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) community, despite having numerous sessions dedicated to them. Why is that?

Having previously run an SME myself, I know only too well that engaging with something like EBNS is incredibly challenging for an SME. The day-to-day work of an SME is ever-changing, dynamic and all-consuming. How can an SME possibly undertake any more challenging, seemingly external problems, like becoming nature-positive? My view is that SMEs won’t truly mobilise until they have to. Regulation and mandatory disclosure is the only way that we can push this sector of the economy forward, but it needs to be simple, a word that is not typically associated with nature and biodiversity.

SMEs often feel like this kind of work is only relevant to large corporations and that their relative impact is small and insignificant. This is something that those of us working in this space need to demystify. SMEs have a massive collective impact and like everyone else, they too need to assess their impact on nature and try to minimise it. It is estimated that around 60-70% of environmental impact comes from the SME sector. (Marshall Report)

To have any chance of making progress SMEs need a few key things. Regulation, funding, education and long-term support. There is a significant awareness and education gap within business that needs to be addressed quickly. SMEs need to build their own capacity to manage these new business strategies that we are expecting them to produce. Most will probably need external expertise and that costs money. Should we employ a “Robin Hood” style approach to mobilising SMEs? Where larger corporations fund the SMEs in their value chain to help them become more nature-positive. Or should this kind of support come from government or local authorities?

Either way, for SMEs to mobilise for climate or nature, they need:

  • Awareness & understanding of the issues
  • Additional financial support to help them develop & action environmental strategies
  • Long-term support to enable them to continue to operate in an ever-changing economy

More than that, real change will only be triggered with regulation. And that needs to happen quickly.

Registration is now open for the European Business & Nature Summit, co-hosted by Business For Biodiversity Ireland with the EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform in Brussels this October. A number of high-profile speakers have been announced.

Orange card with headshots of various speakers

The European Commission-backed event, taking place at The Egg venue on October 18-19th, will also be livestreamed. The two days will feature high-level political round tables and thematic practical workshops and side events to help businesses on their journey to ASSESS, COMMIT, TRANSFORM and DISCLOSE their relationship with nature.

The 2022 summit will be an important milestone in the road to Phase 2 of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) later this year. Business For Biodiversity Ireland is delighted to contribute to strengthening Europe’s growing Business for Biodiversity movement. The event aims to help our business community shape and prepare for the imminent transformative shift toward a nature-positive business model.

Speakers announced include:

  • Moderator Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director for Natural Capital, DG Environment
  • Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director-General, Environment Department, European Commission
  • Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary, IPBES
  • Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, EC
  • Richard Mattison, CEO, S&P Global Trucost
  • And many more sustainability & business experts.

Business For Biodiversity Ireland Platform Lead Lucy Gaffney said: “In a world suffering drastic biodiversity loss, ‘business as usual’ is no longer acceptable. It is only with long-term vision and strong collaboration that we will be able to turn the tide and protect the natural ecosystems on which societies and economies depend.”

Register now for the European Business and Nature Summit and be part of a European movement of corporate leaders taking steps towards integrating biodiversity into their business models, while also addressing its ‘twin’ crisis – climate change.

Check out the programme for more details of agenda and speakers and register on the European Business & Nature Summit website.

#EUBiodiversity #BusinessNatureSummit #EBNS22 #NatureIsEveryonesBusiness #ForNature  #BiodiversityCrisis #JoinTheEvolution #BizBioIrl

New ‘Business for Biodiversity’ platform will help businesses to take strategic action for biodiversity

 

Ministers Noonan and Hackett launch initiative supported by KPMG, Gas Networks Ireland, Bord na Mona and Coillte

 

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD and Minister of State for Land-Use & Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, today encouraged businesses to sign up to Business for Biodiversity, a new platform to guide them in taking action to tackle the biodiversity crisis.

 

Backed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine the platform was launched today at the National Biodiversity Conference in Dublin Castle. The new platform will help businesses to measure, design and demonstrate their biodiversity impact, drawing on a network of expertise led by Natural Capital Ireland, the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Business in the Community Ireland.

 

 

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Malcolm Noonan said:

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Irish business community drive action on the biodiversity agenda. This platform aims to bring businesses together across sectors to assess biodiversity impact, take strategic action across a range of organisational levels, and learn from international best practice in corporate biodiversity governance. Corporate action is an important element of the all-of-society approach required to address biodiversity loss and I encourage all businesses to sign up to the platform, and get involved to help protect, conserve and restore nature.”

 

Minister Hackett said:

“The business community has a vital role to play in our response to the biodiversity crisis, so I am delighted to support this platform. Employees and consumers alike are demanding more from businesses when it comes to their environmental credentials, and this platform will enable businesses to build their awareness of both their impacts and their dependencies on biodiversity. With that awareness, businesses will be empowered to take action to address biodiversity loss and to  have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate.”

 

How the platform works

The purpose of the platform is to encourage and incentivise Irish businesses to assess their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. The overarching aim is to support implementation of Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan, to halt harmful activities and promote the restoration and regeneration of Ireland’s natural heritage. Business For Biodiversity received Government seed funding for an initial three-year period, but from January onwards, the platform will put a paid membership model in place, once well-developed resources are established to offer support and networking opportunities to businesses, with a tiered fee system to suit every scale, from small-to-medium enterprises to large multi-nationals.

 

Some of the services to be offered by the platform include increasing understanding of biodiversity through educational webinars, facilitating networking and collaboration among participating companies, educating member companies around national policy on biodiversity and identifying nature-based solutions to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Platform Development Manager for Business for Biodiversity, Lucy Gaffney today acknowledged the important role that participating companies play in developing standards – for example, many businesses are now working with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to enhance their contribution to bees and other pollinators. She said the plan is to incorporate some of these existing certifications into Business for Biodiversity’s own scoring system to ensure streamlined compatibility between the various initiatives.

 

Ms Gaffney emphasised:

“Biodiversity is complex and hard to measure which is why we are working with the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Business in the Community to ask businesses to come aboard at this early stage to help us develop a biodiversity evaluation metric that can be applied and tailored to businesses of every sector and scale. Private enterprises are part of the solution to this crisis and important partners in addressing biodiversity loss.”

 

Business support for the platform:

Today’s launch was attended by a number of businesses and organisations lending support to the platform, including KPMG, Gas Networks Ireland, Bord na Móna and Coillte.

Orlaith Delargy, Associate Director at KPMG Ireland said:

 

“KPMG recognises how our economy depends on biodiversity, and the vital role that business has to play in halting and reversing nature loss. We’re delighted to become a founding member of Ireland’s Business and Biodiversity Platform as part of our wider set of ESG ambitions and today we make the pledge to assess our impacts and dependencies on biodiversity; and support the implementation of Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan.

 

Sustainability Manager Anne Moore of Gas Networks Ireland commented:

“As part of our commitment to responsible business, Gas Networks Ireland is proud to be a founding member of this new Business for Biodiversity Platform being established here today. Gas Networks Ireland is progressing its own biodiversity action plan which has ambitious targets driven by the 2019 Seeds for Nature Charter”.

 

Ger Breen, Head of Land and Habitats at Bord na Móna, added that:

“Bord na Móna takes its responsibility to restore and protect our habitats very seriously and we have made excellent progress in peatland rehabilitation. During the first year of the rehabilitation programme, Bord na Móna undertook the rewetting of some 8000 hectares of peatland. The Brown to Green strategy supports Ireland’s climate action objectives through the delivery of renewable energy projects and the implementation of the Peatland Climate Action Scheme (PCAS), funded by the Government and Bord na Móna. Our work is creating rich and diverse habitats for our native plant and animal species.”

Ciaran Fallon, Director of Coillte Nature said:

“Sustainable forestry has such an important role to play in a nature-positive future and we are delighted to be a founding member of the new business and biodiversity platform. The platform will provide much needed help and support to the Irish business community, and we are excited to see how the journey to nature-positive unfolds.”

 

Biodiversity is the variety of life at various scales, from genes to species to habitats, with an estimated one million species facing extinction worldwide. The decline in pollinators vital for food production is a particularly worrying issue. Experts warn that biodiversity loss poses as much of a threat to our planet as climate change – and with healthy ecosystems and habitats needed for climate regulation and carbon storage, the two issues are closely interlinked.

 

The new platform fulfils one of the objectives set out in Ireland’s National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 and aims to develop as a resource that will positively transform the relationship between business and nature in Ireland.

 

 

 

The natural world is full of synergistic relationships. Relationships that provide mutual benefits and opportunities.

These relationships are part of a larger interconnected system, which is optimised, successful and thrives within the boundaries of its own sphere of existence. If something within that system changes, adaptation, and evolution, results. Failure to adapt often spells disaster!

This form of interconnected, complex relationships also exists between organisations and businesses within a market or economy. Much like a biological ecosystem, the business ecosystem has an array of different types of connections and relationships, some tightly dependent, some less so, but without them we could not succeed. Like a biological ecosystem, the business ecosystem evolves to fluctuating internal or external factors. This ability to adapt, both in natural and business ecosystems separates those who thrive and those who do not.

The real story here, is that natural and business ecosystems are inextricably linked. Nature underpins all our business ecosystems. You may be several degrees of separation from the soil, but it will still represent the foundation of some aspect of your business.

Protecting nature will build long-term resilience into our economy. Regardless of your sector, doing nothing is no longer an option. There is no future for “Business as Usual”

Business for Biodiversity is Ireland’s new national business and biodiversity platform launching this March. The platform will focus on increasing awareness and education around business links to nature, applicable policy information, networking and collaboration opportunities and examples of actions that businesses can take.

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#jointheevolution #evolutionofbusiness #naturepositive #fornature #biodiversity #bizbioirl