Tag Archive for: Global Biodiversity Framework

Business for Biodiversity Ireland (BFBI) was invited to attend the in-person and semi-virtual European Business and Nature Summit (EBNS) in Milan on the 11th and 12th of October 2023. BFBI’s Platform Development lead Lucy Gaffney and researcher Emer Ní Dhúill attended the summit – Europe’s foremost high-level political and technical forum, dedicated to mobilising the business community towards achieving the nature-positive goal – and returned with some key takeaways:

On Day 1, the BFBI team attended the Opening Address by EU Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius, as well as the inspirational keynote by Climate Scientist and Explorer Gilles Denis, also the high level policy and business dialogues and a number of workshop parallel sessions. In addition, the team attended a side event facilitated by KPMG Italy and moderated by Orlaith Delargy of KPMG Ireland, which focused on CSRD and included a guest speaker from the sustainability team at Italian Coffee company Illy Caffe.

Workshop: GBF’s Target 15 as a catalyst for action

“Target 15. Businesses assess and disclose biodiversity dependencies, impacts and risks, and reduce negative impacts” (Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), Convention on Biological Diversity)

Target 15 of the Global Biodiversity Framework places nature conservation on equal footing with both profit and climate change by exhorting businesses to disclose their dependencies on and impacts to biodiversity. Yet achieving the promise of Target 15 will require new processes and tools. This session explored three such critical areas: how can companies use transition plans to accelerate progress on both nature and climate goals, how can financial institutions take responsibility and amplify this essential work, and how can Target 15 complement and improve the Paris Agreement’s stocktake of progress on climate goals?.

Key Takeaways:

This workshop included a panel discussion on business finance and government, including the need for alignment with financial flows. This session included speakers from the European Commission, the French Treasury, Orkla ASA, and Arcadis.

The need to redirect capital flows was mentioned, in particular that it should include public and private capital. It was highlighted that those who are the custodians of nature should be rewarded. The need to avoid and reduce negative impacts on nature was noted as a key part of Target 15 – ‘you can’t just restore nature, you must reduce and avoid impacts’.

Participants were divided into groups to discuss Target 15. Points raised included:

  • The link between biodiversity loss and climate change should be clearly stated, including an understanding that actions for biodiversity can mitigate the impacts from climate change.
  • Nature must be integrated with climate – this includes the synergies and trade-offs.
  • There is a need for transformative change to nature positive in order to achieve Target 15.
  • There is a need to disclose impacts and dependencies, but actions should also be disclosed.
  • Transition plans need to be well thought out, transparent, and identify action gaps.
  • The need to data standardisation was highlighted.
  • The timeline for Transition Plans was discussed, with it generally agreed that they should have long-term actions (at least to 2050), but in reality, the duration is short-term.
  • For nature, the location/landscape level is important for setting nature-positive goals. The sector level works well for climate action, but for biodiversity, the landscape level is more important. However, a good high-level starting point is the Sector Actions Towards a Nature-Positive Future developed by Business for Nature.
  • Although the location/landscape level for nature was considered important, it was highlighted that investors invest in sectors, not locations/landscapes. Consideration needs to be given to this and how to get investors to change that mindset – with a suggestion that investors go back to their clients and inform them of the need to assess impacts and dependencies at the location/landscape level along the value chain of a given portfolio.
  • The need to look at companies within sectors and what they doing was noted, with the aim of separating the leaders from the laggards.

Creating a credible roadmap to a nature-positive economy: how to avoid green-washing and ensure real outcomes for biodiversity

The session provided introductory information for businesses to action nature-positive ambition now. Providing real-world examples of actions being taken by leading corporations, with a focus on setting organisational biodiversity targets, measuring and accounting for impacts, and working to improve value-chain transparency. This session included speakers from Etifor, Fauna & Flora, BancaEtica, Salesforce, NextEnergy and NESTE and was moderated by Wesley Snell from Etifor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Businesses need to understand how they interact with commodity markets.
  • There is an understanding that we cannot eliminate harm completely, but that we need to operate within planetary boundaries
  • Biodiversity only applies to Scope 1 and 3
  • There is a general lack of biodiversity knowledge in the business community
  • There are key mindset challenges that exist in business
  • Getting internal buy-in can be a real stumbling block.

 

On Day 2, the BFBI team attended the opening address by Florika Fink-Hooijer, EC Director General for the Environment, the high-level policy and business dialogue 3 and a number of workshop sessions, as well as the closing plenary.

Sector transition pathways to nature positive

Following the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework, various business initiatives including Business for Nature (BfN), WBCSD and WEF have started identifying a set of sector-specific actions that business can take to contribute to a nature positive future. Drawing on the outcome of this work, this session identified common barriers and challenges currently preventing business action and impeding sector transition. As the momentum around business and biodiversity continues to increase globally, the session also identified policy levers to accelerate and scale up nature-positive sector transformation and opportunities to finance business innovations and models across the economy that protect and restore nature.

Moderated by Eva Zabey, CEO of Business for Nature, this was an audience-led session and after some brief panel questions, discussion was thrown out to the floor. The topic was “challenges facing businesses when it comes to taking or scaling action”. BFBI’s Lucy Gaffney intervened, stating that one of the main challenges involves dismantling the current ideals and thinking around corporate biodiversity actions, traditional activities like wildflower meadows and beehives, and rebuilding corporate perspectives around biodiversity strategies. The intervention was well received and prompted numerous conversations at the networking break.

Business for Nature announced a new campaign called “It’s Now for Nature” launching on November 9th, a rally cry to business to act on nature and contribute to nature positive world by 2030.

Biodiversity certificates and credits: an opportunity for forests, coastal habitats, and local communities?

Biodiversity credits and certificates offer a chance to accelerate the transition to a nature-positive society. All actors and market participants need to be involved in the design of emerging biodiversity schemes, understanding the challenges and conditions for developing a high integrity and scalable voluntary biodiversity credits framework that supports business in their journey towards nature positive. The session aimed to showcase emerging initiatives in this space, focusing on measuring, certifying, and trading of credits. By gathering different viewpoints from policy, science, and business, the session aimed to help demonstrate the multiple forms of expertise that are needed.

Key Takeaways

This session included speakers from ItaSIF – Forum per la Finanza Sostenibile, World Economic Forum, CDC Biodiversité, European Commission Joint Research Centre, NatureMetrics, Forest Stewardship Council International (FSC) and Etifor. Key takeaways from this session:

  • Biodiversity credits are not a silver bullet and not the solution to the biodiversity loss crisis – however they are an important and useful tool that can be employed.
  • Other mitigation measures need to be implemented before considering biodiversity credits.
  • Biodiversity credit claims need to be realistic and need to protect consumers from greenwashing – the Green Claims Directive was highlighted.
  • The TNFD and SBTN guidance were mentioned as important resources.
  • There is a need for standardised, verifiable data, including data on impact reductions and finance data.
  • There is a need for pressure data and on-the-ground data.
  • Data needs to be stored to be available long-term (aka a data hub).
  • Metrics for ecological equivalence similar to those of carbon equivalence are needed.
  • Criteria need to be measurable (carbon farming was mentioned).
  • Biodiversity is location specific, the metrics used in one location may not be appropriate for another location – this is a challenge.
  • Tools developed for nature metrics need to be aligned to the stakeholders needs/ability. However, there is a cost associated with developing such tools (i.e. NatureMetrics).
  • It was highlighted that there are numerous biodiversity credit standards but only a handful of projects.
  • Offsetting should be regulated, not voluntary.

Transforming the global food system: Establishing successful partnerships to engage all actors in the value chain

This session focused on tested tools and approaches for creating and maintaining successful inclusive value-chain collaboration to reach agrobiodiversity objectives in different contexts. Speakers included representatives from Nestle, Lidl, the Italian Farmers Association, the Cool Farm Alliance and Coldiretti Bio.

Key Takeaways

  • Food is an ecosystem service, biodiversity is the lubricant
  • The latest CAP is designed for productivity but some money is earmarked for climate and biodiversity
  • Businesses must focus on reducing negative externalities, reducing food loss and waste, educating consumers
  • Less nature = less food
  • Food is big business in Europe. The growing global population is putting huge pressures on food systems.
  • Farmers need to be part of the conversation – most farmers (in Italy) are small farmers with limited time and resources (this would hold true for Ireland too)
  • There is a need for common targets such as the EU Green Deal (EU Biodiversity Strategy and Farm to Fork) targets for reducing pesticide use
  • There is a legislative framework on food in progress at the EU Commission which focuses on soil health (soil underpins all sustainability in the food sector)
  • A big strength of food security is the ecosystem services provided
  • Tech drives investment, but eco-tech (including Nature-based Solutions) are also important
  • The EU are the standard setters and have influence on the global stage
  • Regarding the Nature Restoration Law, it was noted that some stakeholders feel threatened although the aim of the NRL is for the benefit all stakeholders.

BFBI platform lead Lucy asked a question around a 2020 UNEP report which states that the business models of primary producers will be more likely to shift towards nature positive if the value chain pays for the outcome. How likely are businesses within the value chain to finance their upstream primary producers to become more nature positive and how can we mobilise finance from within the value chain instead of consistently relying on the public purse?

Conclusion

The 2023 summit was about turning commitments into action and catalysing business activities that will support the Global Biodiversity Framework. There were certainly more businesses in attendance compared to 2022 and there were many examples of businesses taking action illustrated throughout the workshop sessions. The European Commission also had a larger delegation this year.

Several interventions were made by the BFBI team which highlighted our platform and our team. The opportunities for networking were vast and BFBI made some very important connections that will enhance our offering to business in the future by having access to experts and business examples that are well on their way to becoming nature positive.

Read more: European Business and Nature Summit Conference 2023

A major collaborative initiative has been launched aimed at driving alignment around the term ‘nature positive’ in order to support broader, longer-term efforts to deliver nature-positive outcomes. Read the full definition of Nature Positive here.

The Nature Positive Initiative includes Business for Nature, Capitals Coalition, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures. The development of ‘Nature positive by 2030’ as the global goal for nature – equivalent to the 1.5C goal that exists for climate, has been ongoing since 2019. Read the full definition of Nature Positive here.

This goal refers to halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 from a 2020 baseline, through measurable gains in the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, ecosystems, and natural processes.

The Nature Positive Initiative states: “Governments, business and civil society have rallied behind the ambition inherent in a nature-positive approach, with reversing biodiversity loss recognised as critical to combating the global climate crisis, preventing future pandemics, addressing water and food insecurity, supporting sustainable and equitable development, and recognising and addressing the rights and contributions of Indigenous Peoples.

“In December 2022, the goal was codified in the mission of the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, with its adoption under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity described as the ‘Paris moment’ for nature.

“At the same time, use of the term ‘nature positive’ has grown without a clear and aligned understanding among business, finance, government and civil society actors about what the phrase represents and does not represent. Ensuring clarity and preserving the integrity of the definition is now a priority to ensure the necessary actions and accountability.

Nature Positive graph with illustrations of wildlife and animals below the curve, increasing to full recovery after 2030

“A priority will be supporting the rollout of the common definition, metrics and standardised tools and practices that enable all to appropriately measure and report on their impact and contributions at the actor level. The initiative will also advocate for and support the full implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework by governments and other stakeholders.”

Other organisations involved include African Natural Capital Alliance, BirdLife International, Campaign for Nature, Conservation International, Global Commons Alliance, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Indigenous Information Network, InTent, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Nature Positive Universities / University of Oxford, Nature4Climate, NatureFinance,  Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Principles for Responsible Investment, Science Based Targets Network, The Climate Champions Team, The Nature Conservancy, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, World Resources Institute, and WWF International.

This core group of organisations will be tasked with setting the NPI’s strategic direction, policy positions, and joint activities. They will also be responsible for convening, liaising with, and coordinating the active engagement of a much broader and inclusive constituency of partner organisations to ensure all stakeholders’ views are considered and to help support efforts to deliver nature-positive outcomes across society. An NPI Partnership is open to all relevant institutions and organisations who want to support and implement the global goal for nature.

For further information on the Nature Positive Initiative, please contact naturepositiveinitiative@gmail.com.

See https://www.naturepositive.org/

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.

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