Why should biodiversity matter to businesses?
21st June 2023
Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, including plants, animals, insects and microbes. It is an essential component of human health and underpins all economic activity. From food security to medicine development and the production of raw materials, biodiversity benefits our lives in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, it is being lost at an alarming rate around the world and in the UK, which could be disastrous for all life on earth. Pressures include global warming, urbanisation, soil erosion, air pollution and water pollution.
The importance of biodiversity for business is becoming increasingly apparent, with half of the world’s GDP being dependent on nature. Directly or indirectly, loss of biodiversity has an adverse effect on supply chains for businesses across all sectors. For example, businesses in the food and beverage sector rely on pollinators for crop production, while hospitality businesses depend on natural displays to attract visitors.
However, with limited support, guidance and incentives available, it can be challenging for businesses to know where to start when it comes to protecting biodiversity. Here are some easy-to-follow ways for businesses to improve biodiversity, helping not only the planet, but the business’ bottom line.
Build internal awareness
A great first step is to build awareness among staff on the importance of biodiversity for the business. You could also consider sharing your company’s biodiversity goals or plan of action. Encouraging employees to take the lead with initiatives will help to embed this in your company culture and foster further engagement. At SUEZ, we created a thriving network of Sustainability Champions, who are responsible for protecting biodiversity on a local level. The Champions put our 10 sustainability principles into action, one of which is ‘Take action for nature’, to improve biodiversity across all our sites. Encouraging employees to volunteer for a local wildlife or conservation charity can also help to engage them and bring them on board with the business goals.
Engage with your supply chain
No matter which sector your business is in, your supply chain and purchasing decisions could affect global as well as local biodiversity. Assess your supply chain to find areas where you can reduce your business’ impact and work with your suppliers to improve environmental performance. For instance, ensure that any raw materials your business uses come from a sustainable source. You could consider creating a sustainable procurement policy, to ensure any goods and services are evaluated against sustainability criteria during the procurement process.
You don’t have to do it alone. Businesses can collaborate with other businesses, civil society organisations and research institutions to share best practices and learn from each other. For example, we are collaborating with the Wildlife Trust, local tree planting organisations and community groups, and sharing best practice with the Environmental Services Association and the UK Business & Biodiversity Forum.
Consider your outside space
Many businesses have an outside space on their premises, and you can maximise this area to help biodiversity. For example, you could plant pollinator-friendly native flowers or plants. Hedgerows can also provide food and shelter for birds, insects and mammals. If you have suitable outside space, you could install bird and owl boxes and insect hotels. If you have a larger outside space, you could consider working with local beekeepers to install beehives, helping to protect these valuable pollinators.
Measure your results
By measuring and reporting on their biodiversity performance, businesses can demonstrate their contribution to social and environmental goals. While there is no one-size-fits-all tool for businesses to measure their biodiversity performance, the Biodiversity Best Practices Guide from the Environmental Services Association, provides a useful framework on how to get started on measuring impacts.
Biodiversity is a fundamental component of long-term business survival. It helps to stabilise the climate and provide clean air, water and other services which are vital for a stable operating environment. By conserving and restoring biodiversity, businesses can ensure the long-term availability and quality of natural resources that they need for their operations. They can build resilience by reducing their exposure to risks such as resource scarcity, price volatility, supply disruptions and reputational damage.
By integrating biodiversity into strategies, business can differentiate themselves from their competitors and respond to the growing demand for green products and services from consumers, investors and regulators to build a future-proof business.
When biodiversity thrives, businesses thrive.Tweet