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Combatting biodiversity loss: why it should be a priority for your organization

It is time to be accountable for biodiversity loss and instill steps to regenerate nature positive future.

The state of our planet is a growing concern for many people around the world. Climate change, deforestation, and pollution are just a few of the issues that are contributing to the degradation of our environment. However, there is hope for a positive future. By regenerating nature, we can help restore the balance of our planet and create a sustainable future for generations to come. More than half of the world's plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate, which poses a grave danger to our own survival.

What is Biodiversity loss?

Biodiversity loss is the decline in the variety of species in an ecosystem. It can be caused by a variety of factors (or environmental pressures), such as land transformation, pollution, or the introduction of invasive species. Biodiversity loss can have serious consequences for the health and stability of ecosystems, the people directly depending on them for their livelihood, for the world economy, and individual companies. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that USD 44 trillion of economic value generation (over half of global GDP) is moderately or highly dependent on nature and that from 1992 to 2014, the value of natural capital stocks per head declined by 40%, owing to unsustainable rates of natural resource extraction, environmental degradation, and pollution.

How can we regenerate nature?

Regenerating nature involves restoring ecosystems and biodiversity through a variety of techniques.

Reforestation

One of the most effective methods is reforestation. Trees play a crucial role in regulating the climate, providing a habitat for wildlife, and preventing soil erosion. By planting more trees and protecting existing forests, we can help to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect the natural world.

Restoration of wetlands and other natural habitats

Another important aspect of regenerating nature is the restoration of wetlands and other natural habitats. Wetlands are important for filtering water, preventing flooding, and providing habitat for a wide range of species. By restoring these habitats, we can help to create a healthier environment for both wildlife and humans.

Reducing human impact on the environment

In addition to these efforts, regenerating nature also involves reducing our impact on the environment. This can include reducing our use of single-use plastics, adopting sustainable farming practices, and transitioning to renewable energy sources. By making these changes, we can help to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable future.

What is being done to combat biodiversity loss?

Biodiversity is a key theme for sustainable growth and recognition of the risks attached to its loss is gaining momentum. In December 2022, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) resulted in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which sets targets to support the reversal of biodiversity loss. Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) targets for 2030 are:–
  • The effective conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans, with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services. The GBF prioritises ecologically-representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation, recognising indigenous and traditional territories and practices. Currently 17% and 10% of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas respectively are under protection. 
  • To have restoration completed or underway on at least 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland waters, and coastal and marine ecosystems 
  • To reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity.
  • To cut global food waste in half and significantly reduce overconsumption and waste generation 
  • To reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals 
  • To progressively phase out or reform by 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least USD 500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity’s conservation and sustainable use.

ISO TC 207 is also working to develop Natural Capital Accounting Standards which will provide a systematic way of collating financial, socio-economic and environmental information about an organization’s impacts and dependencies on nature, and presenting it in formats that are familiar to decision makers. . There are two key natural capital accounting outputs prescribed – each with supporting schedules: 

a) Natural Capital Balance Sheet (NCBS) shows an organization’s dependency on natural capital assets. It mimics a financial balance sheet so far as it shows the (natural capital) asset values and (natural capital maintenance) liabilities. 

b) Natural Capital Income Statement (NCIS) shows the organization’s impacts on natural capital assets. It mimics a financial income statement so far as it shows the positive impacts (the enhancements) and negative ones (degradations). Again, like its financial counterpart, NCIS looks at the past performance during the financial year to date. 

Natural capital accounting is a rare offer of holistic treatment of all data with focus on natural capital assets, such as water, forests, atmosphere, etc. as opposed to tools or approaches developed on a single-issue basis. It is a structure within which the outputs from all such tools and approaches can be gathered and interpreted together. Working within a natural capital accounting structure will help organizations identify and prioritise their data needs and select the most appropriate approaches that will support their decisions. 

Natural capital accounting will also help organizations align with the Taskforce for Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Taskforce for Nature related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), the future requirements from International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), guidance from EFRAG for Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), and taxonomies developed for sustainable finance.

What can businesses do to help combat biodiversity loss?

Nature-related risk assessments can help financial institutions and corporates inform their strategies and decision-making. For asset owners in particular, risk assessments feed into decisions about portfolio allocation, risk management and investment strategies, from due diligence to value creation and exit strategy. Risk assessments can also help corporates stress test their business strategies, identify options for risk mitigation and inform peer engagement to create industry-wide initiatives with positive impacts on nature. Understanding how to apply best practice risk assessment approaches effectively is essential for integrating nature into strategic thinking and decision making as well as risk management as per the Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) LEAP approach. 

The TNFD recommend the satisfaction of six general requirements for disclosure statements. These cut across the four pillars of the disclosure recommendations: Governance, Strategy, Risk and Impact Management, and Metrics and Targets. The six general requirements relate to: 

1. The approach to materiality; 

2. The scope of disclosures made; 

3. Links between nature-related dependencies and impacts, and risks and opportunities (referred to collectively in the TNFD framework as nature-related issues); 

4. The location specificity of nature-related issues); 

5. Integration with other sustainability-related disclosures; and 

6. Stakeholder engagement.

What now?

The benefits of regenerating nature are numerous. By restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, we can help to mitigate the effects of climate change, provide habitats for wildlife, and create a healthier environment for humans. Additionally, regenerating nature can provide economic benefits through ecotourism and sustainable agriculture. We have already seen how new digital technologies are making a difference in our transition to a nature positive future. They enable more effective data collection, automate time-consuming processes, enhance management decision-making, and support targeted monitoring for agreements and goals. This only reinforces the incredible potential of AI to better support biodiversity protection and buttress industry efforts towards meeting global conservation and sustainable development goals.

In conclusion, regenerating nature is a crucial step towards creating a positive future for our planet. By planting trees, restoring wetlands, and reducing our impact on the environment, we can help to restore the balance of our planet and create a sustainable future for generations to come. 

Contact DNV to have a discussion about how to mitigate risks and combat biodiversity loss in your organization.

31/05/2023 2:00:00 am

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Anirban Chatterjee

Anirban Chatterjee

Sales Head- SCPA, India & Middle East

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