Tag Archive for: Business For Biodiversity Ireland

Business for Biodiversity Ireland offers our members an easy-to-follow Roadmap to Nature Positive –  the Assess Phase covers getting started by making a commitment – and another key step is working out where your business stands within a sectoral and organisational context in order to create a solid biodiversity strategy. To do this, you need to know how to ask the right questions.

BFBI members can access our Business Template which will help map out your business model in terms of inputs, activities and outputs. It has been compiled with our community of practice businesses and cross-referenced with prevailing methodology and standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the TNFD LEAP approach.

The Global Reporting Initiative is an independent, international organisation that provides a global common language to communicate environmental impacts with a suite of standards to help businesses report on various aspects of sustainability across regulatory landscapes.

The BFBI Business Template helps unpack your business model with a series of guiding questions, for example:

– What sector are you active within?
– What type of activities are carried out by your business?
– Where are your activities based geographically?

The template goes on to cover your raw materials, your procurement, your land footprint, your water footprint – with recommended tools to calculate these – as well as, you guessed it, your carbon footprint.

Creating a value-chain map

Then you’ll look through your business and value-chain relationships, with more guiding questions, giving you an opportunity to create a value-chain map. Every business has a value chain – you need to also consider what types of activities are undertaken by those with which you have business relationships?

Think about your sector and theirs – what are the nature challenges at local, regional, and global levels related both to your sector and to that of organisations in your value chain: e.g. deforestation, climate change, water stress, pollution, land use, invasive species, natural resource use?

What are the responsibilities with regards to compliance and regulation? These steps on the Roadmap will allow you to create high-level overviews to identify topics material to your business when it comes to new and existing reporting regulations.

This process must be revisited regularly and in consultation with stakeholders and industry experts. The policy landscape is evolving, reflecting the urgency to take action to mitigate risk from the connected biodiversity loss and climate change crises. It is therefore important to be aware of any policy changes that relate to your business, sector and value chain.

The BFBI platform will be on hand with updates – become a member here to access our full Roadmap to Nature Positive.

Next up: Nature Disclosures – knowing your reporting obligations & choosing the right framework

Business for Biodiversity Ireland offer our members an easy-to-follow Roadmap to Nature Positive – and the second step of Phase 1: Assess, after getting started, is to make a commitment to champion and support the objectives of the international Convention on Biological Diversity. Read more below…

Business For Biodiversity Ireland invites all our businesses to sign our Biodiversity Commitment. This comes after reviewing resources to expand your knowledge in the area of biodiversity loss and becoming familiar with the concept of Nature Positive, which is currently being defined and examined by the Nature Positive Initiative, a collective of the world’s largest nature organisations, business and finance coalitions.

Nature positive is a term that defines the actions and activities of a business that reduce negative impacts on nature across their operations and value chain, with concurrent business activities that redirect resources and financial investments towards the restoration and protection of nature.

Click to learn more about Nature Positive.

The Irish government declared a biodiversity emergency in 2019. According to the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2023-2030, all sectors of society including the private sector have a responsibility for nature’s conservation, to protect and restore ecosystems and the services they provide. Nature-positive business models are inherently more resilient to the impacts of climate change, create diverse employment opportunities and encourage innovative approaches to value-chain management.

The BFBI Biodiversity Commitment pledges to champion and support, by all means possible, the three urgent objectives of the international Convention on Biological Diversity: 

  • Conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem services 
  • Sustainable use of its components 
  • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits that arise out of the utilisation of resources 

This includes a commitment to analyse and monitor your business activities to understand both your direct impacts on nature and your direct dependencies on nature and the associated risks, including defining biodiversity loss as a business risk, incorporating it into your company risk management portfolio.

It is also necessary to commit to understanding the impacts within your value chain and use this information to incorporate nature into decision-making. This includes encouraging your suppliers to make a similar commitment to strive for a nature positive future.

Read the full Biodiversity Commitment HERE.

Become a BFBI member HERE.

Want to begin your journey to Nature Positive but not sure how to start? Business for Biodiversity Ireland Platform Lead Lucy Gaffney explains how our roadmap can help…

Over the last two years, Business for Biodiversity Ireland (BFBI) has been working with businesses of different sizes and across different sectors to understand what key challenges and barriers exist which might prevent them from starting to explore their nature-related risks.

We have found that there is a reasonable lack of understanding of the key issues around biodiversity loss and how those issues translate to business risk.

For some, like those in the primary industries of agriculture, extractives and energy, the risks are clear. But for others, the links to nature are intangible and blurry at best.

The Roadmap to Nature Positive

While developing our Roadmap to Nature Positive, which is aligned to the prevailing methodologies, broken down into easy-to-manage steps and translated into easy-to-understand language, we determined that the very first step on the journey should be focused on learning.

Most businesses need to fully appreciate what is at stake, not just from a operational perspective, but also from the perspective of the individual, families and communities. After all, business equals people.

To that end, the first step on our Roadmap to Nature Positive comprises a curated list of must-watch videos and a compilation of fifteen free ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCs) delivered by higher education institutions like Rice University, University of Geneva and the University of Illinois through Coursera. We have also included courses provided by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNEP) Environment Academy and Learning for Nature initiatives which cover topics like using spatial data for biodiversity and ecosystem restoration. You can choose the course(s) which best suit you and your business, and we’ll be adding more guidance on this soon.

This space is rapidly changing and more and more resources are becoming available to help people and businesses understand how our economies are underpinned by nature and biodiversity.

Join the Community

This must be a collective effort. No one business or sector can tackle the biodiversity crisis alone. If your business wants to mobilise for nature but you’re not clear on what to do or where to start, join the BFBI community and open up a world of opportunities for partnership, collaboration and learning. Your business can and must contribute to a nature positive world.

Register today and expand your knowledge!

The Business for Biodiversity Ireland platform is calling on Irish businesses of every size and sector to come together to accelerate action for nature by signing up to our members’ hub today.

Our Government-backed national platform has a new membership function – free until March 31st, 2024 – which includes an easy-to-follow roadmap which aims to demystify the multitude of biodiversity frameworks, guidance documents and tools for businesses facing new legislation on reporting impacts on nature.

With biodiversity – the variety of all living things – in sharp decline globally and nature restoration linked to the fight against climate change, EU legislation such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive requires businesses to report their impacts on the environment.

With increasing consumer demand and awareness of environmental issues also, more and more businesses are keen to transition their business model to Nature Positive, a mode of operation where business activities do not contribute to ecological harm but actively seek to support nature restoration. However, there is still much uncertainty around how to get started on this.

Business For Biodiversity Ireland offers members guidance documents, aligned to prevailing frameworks and emerging directives, along with short thematic videos, case studies, a calendar of informative events and a quarterly forum to exchange knowledge, share challenges and work together to progress their journey.

The platform has been jointly seed-funded by the National Parks & Wildlife Service/ Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, and has developed its network with feedback from pilot businesses in its Community of Practice, including An Post, Bank of Ireland, Bus Eireann, ESB, Glenveagh Homes and SAP Landscapes, with support from the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Business in the Community Ireland.

Speaking at BFBI’s recent Community of Practice workshop and launch event in Portlaoise’s Midlands Park Hotel, Bus Éireann’s Sustainability Senior Manager Emer Bambrick said:

“Our participation in the platform has greatly increased our understanding of Bus Éireann’s biodiversity-related risks and opportunities and helped to increase our alignment with global and national biodiversity goals and disclosure frameworks.”

At the launch of the membership call, BFBI platform lead Lucy Gaffney said: “Nature positive is not a destination, it is a mindset – a way of working that ensures economic activity no longer harms the natural world but actively invests in its stewardship, protection and restoration.”

Free membership of the Business For Biodiversity Ireland platform is offered for the first three months of 2024 – you can check out our membership terms and fee scale in our Terms of Reference and sign up HERE.

 

2023 was a big year for biodiversity and another busy year for Business For Biodiversity Ireland – a look back at some of the major moves transforming the landscape for nature at a global and local level…

EU Nature Restoration Law: After tense negotations and votes by MEPs, a landmark deal was finally reached on the Nature Restoration Law by the EU Parliament, European Commissions and EU Council. The law means that every EU country must have restoration measures in place covering 20% of EU land and sea areas by 2030. It will set legally binding targets and requirements for rewetting peatlands (30%, expanding to 40% by 2050) and for bringing ecosystems back into good condition across multiple habitats. In the build up, BFBI backed the Corporate Leaders Group & Business For Nature letter and online campaigns in support of the NRL, while platform lead Lucy Gaffney appeared on the Newstalk Breakfast Business show with Joe Lynam to discuss the importance of the law.

Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Loss: Lucy Gaffney addressed Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly – the first such national citizens’ assembly anywhere in the world – which wrapped in January 2023 and in June, launched 150 recommendations that have the potential to dramatically transform Ireland’s relationship with the natural environment. The recommendations have since been reviewed and accepted by the government. The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action recommends advancing a referendum on protecting biodiversity, that would see Ireland become the first in the EU to bestow nature with rights.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) – The directive took effect on January 3, 2023, with 18 months for EU countries to integrate it into law. The European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) E4 standard addresses corporate sustainability relating to biodiversity and ecosystems. The aim is to help businesses to understand how they affect nature, positively and negatively, and how to interpret the results of corporate biodiversity action.

Science Based Targets for Nature: Over 80 global NGOs and organisations came together and released the first science-based targets for nature, enabling companies to start taking ambitious and measurable action on both climate and nature.

The High Seas Treaty: After decades of negotiations, countries finally agreed to a treaty to protect the world’s oceans outside national boundaries. It provides a framework for setting up marine protected areas, a crucial step to fulfil aims to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Regulation on Deforestation-free products: The European Union is stopping imports of commodities and products linked to deforestation. Under a new regulation that entered into force in June 2023, importers of commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa, coffee and rubber “must be able to prove that the products do not come from recently deforested land or have contributed to forest degradation”. This includes products such as chocolate and furniture made from those commodities.

Budget 2024 nature boost: The Irish government announced a new Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund with an unprecedented €3.15billion pledged for nature that will use windfall corporate tax profits to fund commitments to the environment up to 2030.

Bioeconomy Action Plan: Ireland’s first Bioeconomy Action Plan for 2023-2025 was jointly issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications. It includes 33 actions to accelerate support for the development of Ireland’s bioeconomy to bring sustainable scientific practices, technologies and bio-based innovation and solutions into use on farms and by bio-based industries.

COP28: At the global summit in the United Arab Emirates, world leaders finally agreed to launch the long-awaited fund for loss and damage caused by climate change – and the final text, agreed by almost 200 countries, for the first time includes a goal to move away from fossil fuels.

BFBI Community of Practice (CoP): We convened our community of practice in January 2023. This small, multi-sector CoP, comprising a mixture of Irish semi-state, private and academic organisations, met regularly throughout the year to share feedback on testing frameworks to assess their biodiversity impacts and the challenges of transitioning to a nature-positive mode of operation. We’ll be expanding this work with more sector specialisation in 2024, more details to come.

 

Man in suit with grey hair chats to blonde woman in beige coat in hallway with red carpet and beige walls

Minister of State Malcolm Noonan & BFBI’s Lucy Gaffney chat at SETU policy event

Business For Biodiversity Ireland key presentations & events of 2023

BFBI’s platform lead Lucy Gaffney spoke at several high-profile in-person conferences, as well as webinars and online discussions.

These included the business and biodiversity breakfast at Green Week, the CIEEM Irish Conference on Nature Positive, major annual conference Environment Ireland 2023 and she also addressed the Business Post’s ESG Summit.

Lucy also gave an overview of natural capital concepts for Chartered Accountants Ireland, joined a panel for Sustainability Week and took part in a Policy Forum for Ireland discussion on next steps for climate policy & action. She joined in a discussion on Addressing Biodiversity Loss with Sustainable Finance Solutions, alongside Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, pictured with Lucy above, at an Irish Research Council-funded SouthEast Technical University Policy Workshop.

Other notable events included the SETAC Europe Conference, a biodiversity literacy Lunch & Learn talk for Irish broadcasters with the Broadcasting Sustainability Network, Climate Finance Week and a DCU Centre for Climate & Society panel discussion. You can watch back the stream, moderated by Dr Diarmuid Torney, DCU School of Law and Government and Co-Director of the Centre for Climate and Society, HERE.

Our team also attended the EU Business & Nature Summit in Milan in October – you can read their key takeaways HERE.

Coming soon – a look ahead at biodiversity trends for 2024 and beyond.

Sign up to our newsletter updates at the bottom of the BFBI homepage HERE.

Image credit: Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy | Nature

 

Our platform lead Lucy Gaffney has written a blog in conjunction with her upcoming presentation at the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management’s upcoming Irish conference: Delivering a Nature Positive Ireland, first published on the CIEEM website.

We are on the brink of the next revolution, the “real” Green Revolution and its emergence signals the end of the ecocidal industrial revolution of the 1800s. For the first time in human history, we are waking up to the notion that healthy ecosystems are the foundation on which we have built our civilisations.

Nature is the great provider. People have become wealthier, we’re living longer and we have the best standard of living that has ever been. But while that curve is on the upswing, there is another curve that is plummeting at an alarming rate – the richness and health of the planet.

We are here because we have burned through the planet’s natural resources with reckless abandon, without assuring that these resources were replenished, without stewardship, without regard to other living beings and indigenous peoples.

But the tide is turning. The business world is waking up to the reality that without investment and stewardship of the natural world, their business is at risk, the economy is at risk and society, as we know it, is at risk.

First Steps
So how can businesses realistically start mobilising for nature? The truth is, that nature is the bigger picture. Our destruction of the natural world undermines the planet’s ability to process excess carbon and greenhouse gases, and our excessive greenhouse gas emissions which cause planetary warming and ocean acidification, perpetuates the loss of biodiversity and interrupts natural cycles.

The first step is really understanding that climate change and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin and absolutely need to be tackled together.

Climate or Biodiversity?
The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has identified five key industrial drivers of biodiversity loss.

– Pollution; solid, liquid and gaseous waste
– Invasive Species; non-native plant and animal species
– Ecosystem conversion; changing how we use our land and seas
– Climate Change; planetary warming, forest fires, ocean acidification
– Exploitation of natural resources


Many businesses are already planning or implementing sustainability projects and many of those projects are less to do with climate change and more to do with nature. Take single use plastics for example, yes they are made from petrochemicals, but the main reason we are ditching single-use plastics is to reduce pollution, a driver of biodiversity loss. There are of course cross-cutting benefits to eliminating single-use plastic, but pollution reduction is the most impactful.

Water stewardship is another corporate initiative that has a greater positive impact on biodiversity than climate change. Conserving water in areas that experience water stress has a high impact, not just on local flora and fauna but also on communities. As the summer temperatures rise, water stress is becoming a bigger issue, even in countries like Ireland. How many companies or services would grind to a halt if there was a prolonged drought?

Reframing our sustainability portfolio through the biodiversity lens might uncover that we are doing more for biodiversity than we first imagined.

Impacts and Dependencies
Every business depends on nature, whether directly or through its value chain. Understanding these dependencies on nature has the potential to expose hidden risks to your business and its future continuity.

Similarly, every organisation has an ecological impact. Whether it be through pollution, greenhouse gas emissions or buying palm oil for your products, some part of the natural world is being degraded. In order to develop a meaningful biodiversity strategy, businesses must understand these impacts and dependencies. There is no point in planting trees or wildflowers to tick the biodiversity action box, if a core activity in your business is responsible for deforestation somewhere else. That’s not nature positive.

There is a multitude of tools and frameworks available to help businesses, particularly corporates, understand their impacts but they can be quite technical and overwhelming for a lay person to navigate. In simple terms, a business could list core activities and explore how those activities might put pressure on those previously mentioned “drivers of biodiversity loss”. How can your business reduce that pressure? Through better recycling policies? By understanding where your raw materials come from? It doesn’t have to be complicated, any positive action is better than inaction, but it should be evidence-based.

The Role of the Consumer
It has long been my view that businesses need guidance and regulation to get to grips with these issues. But in parallel, there needs to be a shift in consumer sentiment and purchasing behaviour. We need to act quickly to avoid going over 1.5C in planetary warming and to halt nature loss, and the key to quick action is a change in consumer demand. It is happening, but there is still a lack of understanding of the issues in the mainstream. Do the public understand that buying products with palm oil, palm fat, palm kernels is causing deforestation in a tropical rainforest? Palm fat is in chocolate, peanut butter, stock cubes, most processed food, toothpaste, makeup.. the list goes on!

We need better labelling on products so that we, as consumers, can make more informed decisions and catalyse change from the ground up.

Into the future
In the next decade, “the competitive edge” will be redefined. The next great green revolution is coming and if business doesn’t evolve, then extinction is on the cards.

Lucy will be speaking at the upcoming CIEEM Irish Conference: Delivering a Nature Positive Ireland in Athlone, April 25. Book HERE.

In 2022, our platform lead Lucy Gaffney was asked to present to Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss – the first such national citizens’ assembly anywhere in the world.

The Assembly’s final report to Government has now been launched with over 150 recommendations that have the potential to dramatically transform Ireland’s relationship with the natural environment.

 

The report was produced as a result of seven meetings of the assembly of 99 citizens, chaired by scientist and broadcaster Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, pictured above, who heard recommendations from experts in the field and visited areas of natural importance.

The report calls for sufficient funding and increased expenditure for enforcement and implementation of national legislation and EU biodiversity-related laws and directives. It recommends that nature be provided with protections within the constitution to allow it to continue to provide the necessities of life – food, clean water and air, providing a healthy environment for wellbeing into the future.

Other recommendations refer to actions in specific sectors such as agriculture; freshwater; marine and coastal environments; peatlands; forestry/woodlands/hedgerows; protected sites and species; invasive species; and urban and built environments. There is acknowledgement of the role of farmers as the custodians of the land and urges that the agriculture industry be supported in conserving and restoring biodiversity.

Read the report HERE.

Watch Lucy’s presentation on how businesses must transition to nature positive below.

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

 

What is a community of practice?

A community of practice is a group of people who share a common concern, are facing similar issues, or are striving to reach similar goals.

 

Participation in a community of practice is voluntary. Members should feel free to share their experiences and knowledge in free-flowing discussions, ask questions of one another, foster new approaches to problems, and work together to define best practices. 

 

Background

Lave and Wenger first coined the term, ‘community of practice’ in Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. The authors proposed that learning is fundamentally a social process and that communities create the social fabric necessary for collective learning. According to Wenger (1998), communities of practice provide five critical functions:

  • Educate by collecting and sharing information related to questions and issues of practice.
  • Support by organizing interactions and collaboration among members.
  • Cultivate by assisting groups to start and sustain their learning.
  • Encourage by promoting the work of members through discussion and sharing.
  • Integrate by encouraging members to use their new knowledge for real change in their own work.

 

Harvard Business Review describes communities of practice as the ‘hidden fountainhead of knowledge development and therefore the key to the challenge of the knowledge economy’. 

 

Our communities

The Business for Biodiversity platform is setting up multi-sector communities of practice, where business leaders can build and share knowledge on how to protect nature and promote biodiversity. The platform will provide infrastructure, coordination and support for each community, while the knowledge, agenda and outcomes will be driven by the members.