The European Biodiversity Summit

Karl Friedrich Falkenberg, Director General,
European Commission, DG Environment, revealed
interconnections and potential synergies
between climate change, business and biodiversity
protection at the European Biodiversity Summit.
Photo: © Tina Teucher

Stuttgart, May 7, 2012: The importance of intact ecosystems has been known for a long time, its significance for the industry has only become a part of the discussion a few years ago. As such, the European Biodiversity Summit has demonstrated through a number of workshops how companies can systematically examine their business processes and supply chains in connection to biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) and take advantage of the opportunities that biodiversity and ecosystem services offer. The issues discussed range from biofuels, biodiversity finance, valuing natural capital, biodiversity assessment tools, legal compliance to biodiversity offsetting and NGO-Business collaborations. The following three workshop reports show new developments in financing biodiversity conservation, tools for companies to measure their impact and dependence on BES and opportunities and limitations of corporate ecosystem valuation.

Financialmanagement and biodiversity

The workshop "Opportunities for biodiversity financing: asset management, project finance and markets” highlighted new developments in financing biodiversity conservation through tapping private capital sources and showed the status quo of markets for biodiversity. The main focus of the discussion was to which extent the financial sector can contribute to the conservation of biological diversity. Two possible ways were discussed: First, the investment in ecologically sustainable enterprises and second, direct investments. The latter method has until now failed to conserve biodiversity, because there are no specific financial products available (yet) with which significant sums of money could be generated, said Eva Maria Mayerhofer from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Even for the EIB, however, biodiversity needs to be presented as an investable asset or commodity which can be analysed across markets. Without such a biodiversity asset, the current best option is to indirectly finance biodiversity through investments in biodiversity-friendly businesses and biodiversity-friendly carbon projects. For asset managers such as Robeco, biodiversity has become a component of its environmental investment policy and features in their engagements with investee companies and their shareholder voting strategies.

How to assess biodiversity?

During the workshop "Corporate Biodiversity Assessment: Choosing the right Tool for Companies” the environmental foundation, Global Nature Fund, introduced the Biodiversity Check as an instrument that helps businesses measure and appraise their impacts on biodiversity. The Check assesses, according to the procedure of environmental management systems EMAS III and ISO 14001, potential negative impacts on biodiversity of individual business units, manufacturing facilities, products or processes, and identifies potential risks and opportunities. With the Tour Operator TUI AG and the Farm Heredade do Freixo do Meio two companies from different sectors and of very different size presented their experiences with the Check. Furthermore, two biodiversity standards were introduced: the European Biodiversity Standard and the LIFE Certificate.

Visualising the economic value of nature

A third focus was the topic of "Putting a Price on Nature: Opportunities and Limitations of Corporate Ecosystem Valuation". Because nature is a public good and has no price attached its value is not reflected in most of the companies' balance sheets and budgets even though many economic studies have shown the monetary value of intact ecosystems. Some pioneering companies such as Puma and Akzo Nobel have now begun to measure their environmental impact on the natural resources and to translate findings into policy alternatives.

Background and Presentations

The first European Biodiversity Summit took place in the framework of the 8th German CSR Forum. The Summit was hosted by dokeo and the Global Nature Fund, partners of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, and supported by the EU LIFE+ Programme.

Speakers from Veolia, HeidelbergCement or Abengoa Energy as well as other companies presented their company's strategies. You can now find the presentations here.

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