Tag Archive for: Lucy Gaffney

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.

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

Environment Ireland takes place in Dublin’s Croke Park on September 14-15, 2023 and on Day 1, BFBI’s Lucy Gaffney will be joining the session on Biodiversity, presenting on the work of the Business For Biodiversity Ireland platform and the need for urgent business action to transition the Irish economy to nature positive.

Bringing together Ireland’s environmental stakeholders, the annual conference provides a wide range of expert speakers examining the overall state of our environment, with focused sessions on circular economy, climate, biodiversity and water.

Ireland’s circular economy strategy sees the National Food Waste Prevention Roadmap and the Deposit Return Scheme coming in November 2022. The Climate Action Plan 2023 has set out a roadmap for how Ireland can accelerate the actions required to respond to the climate crisis, putting climate solutions at the centre of Ireland’s social and economic development.

In the context of nature, Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, at which BFBI also presented, called on the Government to hold a referendum on protecting biodiversity, while the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 aims to put us on a path to recovery by 2030.

Chaired by Kevin O’Sullivan of The Irish Times, event speakers include Ossian Smyth TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy; Niall Ó Donnchú, Director General, National Parks and Wildlife ServiceLorraine Bull, Biodiversity Officer, Dublin City Council; Peter McEvoy, Director of Land Management, Ulster Wildlife; Tasman Crowe, Vice President for Sustainability, UCD, and Chair, National Biodiversity Forum and representatives from Coillte, Foodcloud, Teagasc and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and more.

Access the full programme and info HERE.

BFBI’s Lucy Gaffney will present on the significant role of biodiversity at a major conference covering priorities for climate policy and action in Ireland hosted by the Westminster Forum Project’s Policy Forum for Ireland. 

The August 17th conference, with a keynote speech by Marie Donnelly, pictured, of the Climate Change Advisory Council, is billed as a timely opportunity to discuss next steps for taking forward Ireland’s third Climate Action Plan, published shortly after COP27, which provides for a system change in Ireland’s approach to climate policy.

The event will be chaired by, Richard Bruton TD, Member, Environment and Climate Action Committee and Darren O’Rourke TD, Sinn Fein Spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Action.

Delegates will examine the targets outlined in the Plan, which are underpinned by legislation outlined in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, with legally-binding sectoral emissions ceilings and carbon budgets, the first being to 2025.

Key stakeholders will come together to assess what support is needed for key sectors to stay within the emissions ceilings, and within the maximum emissions outlined in the carbon budget, as Ireland is currently not on course to meet targets.

It will also be an opportunity for delegates to discuss wider EU policy, such as Just Transition and the European Green Deal, and the implications for Irish business and industry, including enabling knowledge sharing in the meeting of shared goals, specifically Ireland’s roadmap to halving emissions by 2030, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Sessions will assess the way forward for nature-based solutions, as well as key priorities for mitigating and addressing biodiversity loss in light of the Citizen’s Assembly report, which emphasised the need for urgent government action on biodiversity restoration.

Overall, sessions in the agenda will discuss:

  • meeting key targets: maintaining the carbon budget – supporting business and industry in adopting more sustainable approaches – improving climate education and advocacy
  • facilitating a Just Transition: diversifying local economies – delivering an inclusive approach to climate action – options for circular economy development – adopting more sustainable economic approaches
  • engaging citizens: engaging the public in climate action and advocacy – raising awareness of the potential benefits and necessities of climate action – developing a joined-up approach to meeting targets
  • key sectors: support across sectors in working within emissions ceilings – building sustainable practice – opportunities for decarbonising transport – priorities for scaling up renewable energy infrastructure
  • wider EU policy: implementing targets laid out in the European Green Deal – priorities for a Just Transition – implementing a worker-friendly shift to a low carbon economy
  • policy priorities: taking forward the CAP – developing effective governance of climate action to meet targets – assessing the pathway to halving emissions by 2030

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from DAFM; DECC; Department for Communities, NI; Department for the Economy, NI; DETE; Department of Finance, NI; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Visit the Westminster Forum Project site to book a place online.

The Business Post’s 2023 ESG Summit takes place in Dublin’s Croke Park on May 30 and BFBI platform lead Lucy Gaffney is among the speakers.

View the full agenda here.

The event aims to explore the many challenges related to climate and sustainability. Many companies are struggling to navigate ESG reporting within their existing business processes and operating models.

The summit will explore how companies can develop effective data management systems and meet the demanding regulatory and standards requirements. The event will focus on best practices to meet the regulatory, data management and reporting challenges coming down the line for business.

Lucy will speak on biodiversity and natural capital and how companies are investing in nature and working to secure a sustainable future.

You can view the full speaker line-up and register on this site.

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.

 

 

Our platform lead Lucy Gaffney will be speaking on ‘The Business Journey to Nature Positive’ at the CIEEM Ireland Conference 2023 in the Radisson Blu, Athlone on April 25 – registration now open.

Nature Positive is a global movement that advocates for having more nature at the end of the decade than at the start. The Nature Positive mission is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and has been committed to by the G7 leaders as well as 50 countries, including Ireland and the UK, committing to protecting at least 30% of the worlds land and ocean by 2030.

But what does this mean in the context of the island of Ireland? What will success look like? What are we already doing to move towards this goal and what needs to change if we are going to be fully successful?

Registration is now open and the programme has been released.

The conference opening address will be given by Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan. Mr Noonan  oversees the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Heritage Council and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Other speakers include Ciaran Fallon of The Nature Trust/Coillte Nature,  Cameron Clotworthy, NPWS, and perspectives from farmers in a session from Caroline Lalor, Nature Based Agri Solutions Ltd and Jonathan Cahill, FarmPEAT Participant Farmer.

More information on the CIEEM site HERE.