Tag Archive for: nature

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.

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/

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

Lucy Gaffney – Business for Biodiversity Ireland

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orange card with headshots of various speakers

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

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

Speakers announced include:

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

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

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

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

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

Many of us have heard this term “nature positive” used in the context of business and biodiversity, but what does it actually mean?

“Nature positive” as a term is being worked on by the Nature Positive Initiative and you can read their latest definition here…essentially its a global societal goal defined as ‘Halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 on a 2020 baseline, achieve full recovery by 2050’.

In this context, a nature positive business is generally understood to have certain qualities and values.

Nature positive businesses understand how their business operations impact on the environment, and they also understand how they benefit from nature, or how they depend on it, for example, through an ecosystem service like pollination.

Once a business understands their impacts and dependencies, they can transform how they do things to avoid or reduce pressure on the natural world. The impacts may be hidden within their value chain, but a business has the power to switch suppliers and make that shift towards organisations that are more tuned in to their environmental or social impact.

A nature positive business mobilises resources to enhance ecosystems and enrich biodiversity. They can do this by enhancing the natural habitats that occur within their landholding, by working with communities to enrich local ecosystems or by providing funding to NGOs to enable rewilding projects further afield, perhaps in key geographic areas and ecosystems that have high biodiversity value or critical habitats, like the Amazon Rainforest.

Carbon storage is another priority for a nature positive business. Cutting carbon emissions, protecting natural carbon sinks, and transforming agriculture to enhance sequestration are fundamental ways that businesses can improve their carbon storage capacity.

Respecting the right to safe water means that businesses must be compliant with liquid waste disposal and discharging into rivers and streams.

Experts claim that we may have entered an era of pandemics driven by the anthropogenic degradation of nature and biodiversity. If we are to escape this quagmire of rapidly spreading global diseases, we need an enormous shift towards prevention. It is estimated that there could be another 850,000 undiscovered viruses that could have the ability to jump to human hosts. The way we currently use our land, trade unsustainably, disrupt natural systems, interfere with wild populations of animals paves the road towards increased pandemic risk. This risk is lowered significantly by intercepting the drivers of biodiversity loss.

The cost of inaction is growing exponentially. The longer we leave it, the more it will cost us, financially and in terms of our heath and wellbeing.

Momentum is building and percolating down to businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. The Nature Positive movement is here, and it will make us stronger, happier, and more resilient.

Join the evolution of business here and learn how your business can become more nature positive?

Tag Archive for: nature