Biodiversity and Business : Why businesses should care about the ecosystem

5 minutes
Image : Why is Biodiversity Important in Business

It’s high time for companies must strive to minimize their negative impact on the environment. 

The “reduce, reuse, recycle” motto has always been a staple when it comes to sustainability. What is important is keeping in mind the design aspect of products. In this day and age it is crucial to design products with their life-cycle in mind, ensuring overall carbon emissions are reduced as much as possible. But this begs the question as to why is biodiversity important?

At the end of the day these changes and developments come down to restoration of biodiversity. A common misconception is to thinking that working towards restoring the ecosystem only benefits the environment. 

Many businesses overlook the fact that the efforts also open doors for new opportunities. Developing businesses that keep in mind the importance of biodiversity could result in significant returns. $10 trillion annually to estimate.  

An effective sustainable strategy boosts brand reputation while simultaneously contributing to a better world. Being aware of the challenges and new market possibilities is key to success while maintaining a healthy biodiversity.

What is biodiversity?

According to IPBES, Biodiversity refers to the wide variety of living organisms found in all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, as well as the intricate ecological networks they are part of. It exists at three distinct levels:

  • Ecosystem biodiversity: This encompasses the diversity of ecosystems within a region, incorporating various habitats, biological communities, and ecological processes like nutrient cycles.
  • Species biodiversity: This refers to the range of species present in an ecosystem, including plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms. It accounts for both the number of different species and their population distribution.
  • Genetic biodiversity: This involves the variation of genes within species, ensuring their health, adaptability, and resilience to environmental changes and external threats such as pests.

Biodiversity is crucial for human survival, well-being, and economic prosperity as it provides essential ecosystem services. These services include provisioning services that supply physical materials like food, fresh water, and wood. 

They also include regulating services that maintain ecosystem processes and balance, such as carbon sequestration, water filtration, and air purification. Additionally, biodiversity offers cultural services that provide spiritual enrichment, recreational opportunities, and aesthetic experiences.

Protecting and promoting biodiversity is vital for ensuring a sustainable future for humanity and the planet we call home.

Why is biodiversity important for business?

Businesses are deeply interconnected with biodiversity and nature through their reliance on natural resources, their environmental impact, the risks they face, and the opportunities available.

Dependencies and Impacts

Companies heavily depend on natural capital and ecosystem services to operate. For instance, agricultural businesses rely on soil fertility and pollination services from bees to grow crops. 

Water-intensive industries like textiles and beverages require access to clean water supplies for their production processes. However, business activities such as natural resource extraction, cultivation, manufacturing, and transportation can directly and indirectly alter the state of nature, leading to biodiversity loss.

Through their interactions with nature, businesses significantly contribute to the five major pressures driving biodiversity loss: 

  1. Changes in land, freshwater, and ocean use
  2. Climate change
  3. Over-exploitation of resources
  4. Pollution
  5. Introduction of invasive species

Risks and Opportunities

The loss of biodiversity poses increasing risks to businesses, including supply chain disruptions, potential regulatory costs, and diminished trust from stakeholders and customers. 

The 2024 World Economic Forum Global Risk Report identifies “critical changes to Earth systems” and “biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse” among the top three risks for the next decade, highlighting their significant and irreversible consequences.

On the other hand, by engaging sustainably with nature, businesses can unlock new opportunities for market expansion, brand reputation enhancement, and cost reduction. For example, adopting sustainable farming and aquaculture practices not only helps preserve local habitats but also attracts eco-conscious consumers. 

Real estate developers incorporating green spaces and eco-friendly designs can reduce long-term maintenance costs and increase property values. Businesses have a crucial role to play in protecting biodiversity and leveraging the opportunities it presents for a more sustainable and prosperous future.

How to Start your Biodiversity Journey

Navigating the relationship between their operations and the importance of biodiversity can be a challenging and complex one. However there are two global frameworks that help guide businesses on this journey.

Fo instance, The Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN). These initiatives offer guidelines that are practical, along with resources that help businesses involve biodiversity into their decision-making processes. 

The SBTN follows a prescriptive method meaning they focus more on equipping businesses with tools and methodologies that enable them to achieve their targets. In contrast, the TNFD initiative provides principles and guidelines for businesses, allowing them to align their finances and risk management with the importance of biodiversity in mind.

Businesses can analyze their impacts as well as opportunities that are biodiversity related by balancing these two approaches. Not only can organizations develop strategies to reduce their negative impact but also open doors for new possibilities for sustainable growth.

The world is now constantly dealing with loss of biodiversity. It is apparent that businesses and organizations have a significant role to play. Implementing strategies that prioritize biodiversity, along with the importance of biodiversity, can result in both economic and environmental prosperity.

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