What is Biodiversity? And what is the EU Biodiversity Strategy?

The new European Biodiversity Strategy 2030 was introduced in May 2020 as a key pillar of the European Green Deal. This ambitious plan takes a long-term view on protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems. Biodiversity may not have enjoyed much attention on the global stage so far, but this is set to change with a number of key international conferences planned for the end of the year. You can expect biodiversity to become the hot topic of 2020 and beyond as we fight to keep global warming below 1,5 °C. In the first of our series of three articles on biodiversity we explore what it is exactly and how it relates to the business community by taking a closer look at the EU’s new Strategy.

Sustainability

First off, it is important to make a clear distinction between sustainability, climate and biodiversity. Sustainability is a key talking point for any self-respecting organisation, yet only too often does it remain limited to climate related actions such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, building a sustainable business model means taking a much broader look at matters. To paraphrase its definition ‘a sustainable business model creates, delivers and captures value for all its stakeholders without depleting the natural, economic and social capital it relies on’.

Climate

It’s clear that Earth’s resources are finite and consuming them at the current rate simply isn’t sustainable. If we don’t start taking care of our natural resources, we won’t be able to maintain the economic growth necessary for our growing – and ageing – population. This means replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, clearing up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and halting climate change if we don’t want to choke all life on Earth.

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Photographer: Karsten Würth | Source: Unsplash

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is what sustains life on Earth. It refers to the variety of life on Earth – plants, animals, micro-organisms – as well as their habitats. Without flowers no bees, without bees no food, and so on. Our ecosystem is complex, with all species helping regulate and ensure its continuation. Biodiversity is vital, yet over the years we have collectively created a massive natural deficit to our planet through industrialisation and urbanisation.

“Biodiversity considerations need to be better integrated into business decision-making at all levels – Measuring and integrating the value of nature for the company is a key enabler for this.”

EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030

Recognising its importance in achieving a fair, circular and zero emission economy by 2050, the EU has made biodiversity a key pillar of the European Green Deal. Including a specific Business for Biodiversity section, the Strategy believes all parts of the economy and society have to play their role. Industry and business have an impact on nature, but they also produce the important innovations, partnerships and expertise that can help address biodiversity loss.

Natural Capital Accounting

Where the relationship between an organisation such as Spadel and our planet is fairly obvious, the Commission’s call to include natural capital accounting as a best practice has led to some pretty surprising insights. Looked at differently, a luxury goods company is not simply a producer of high fashion, it is also an agricultural business. Leather is – in its animal form – farmed, cotton is a crop, and the natural dyes for your skinny jeans are likely plant based. Looking upstream the value chains, biodiversity impacts and dependencies are relevant for many more industries than you might initially expect.

Business for Biodiversity

The Biodiversity Strategy includes a range of key actions addressing the role of business and financials for biodiversity and to ensure that environmental and social interests are fully embedded into business strategies. These include measuring and integrating the value of nature so that biodiversity considerations are better integrated into business decision-making at all levels. A legislative proposal is considered to be put forward in 2021 on sustainable corporate governance, and the quality and scope of non-financial disclosures are currently being reviewed to include environmental aspects. Finally, a common classification of sustainable economic activities will include those that substantially contribute to the protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems. Section 3.3 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy offers further details on these measures.

Biodiversity @ Spadel

Although you may be most familiar with our packaging commitments – reinvent, reduce, recycle, restore – Source of Change is just one facet of sustainability at Spadel. Over the coming issues we look at our actions to safeguard and restore biodiversity in our water captation zones, the wider region and at the factory level.


Care to know more about best practices, methodologies and biodiversity measurement approaches developed for or by corporates or financials? The EU’s Business@Biodiversity Platform offers a wealth of information, as does the Natural Capital Coalition.