WEBINAR RECORDING NOW AVAILABLE
Biodiversity and Nature - The Risks, Impacts and Opportunities for your business
On 21 November 2023, givvable hosted a webinar for Sustainability/ESG, Procurement and Risk & Compliance professionals on Biodiversity: Understanding the Risks, Impacts and Opportunities for your Business. The webinar recording is now available.
This webinar featured subject matter experts:
Dr Rachel Morgain - Deputy Director, Melbourne Biodiversity Institute at The University of Melbourne
Dr Evan B. Center - Environment and Climate Change Manager, UN Global Compact Network Australia
Sarah Day - Nature Alignment Lead and Principal Consultant, Edge Impact
(and moderated by Frances Atkins, CEO and co-founder of givvable)
Businesses in virtually every sector, whether through direct use or via their supply chains, rely on nature for resources and ecosystem services. Researchers have found that over half of global GDP ($44 trillion in economic value) is moderately-to-highly reliant on the natural world. Organizations need to act now to understand and address their nature-related impacts and risks posed by biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
State of Play (Frances Atkins, givvable at 5:39):
The moderator provides an overview of the current state of play, which is characterized by alarming rates of ecosystem erosion, with Australia having the highest number of mammal extinctions globally and a grading of “poor” for biodiversity.
Frances goes on to highlight the critical link between businesses and biodiversity, noting that an estimated $44 trillion in economic value – over half of global GDP – is moderately to highly reliant on the natural world and ecosystem services.
What do each of biodiversity, nature and ecosystem services refer to and why is biodiversity in crisis? (Dr Rachel Morgain, Melbourne Biodiversity Institute at 7:55):
Dr Morgain provides an overview of biodiversity, nature and ecosystem services, explaining that:
- Biodiversity is the sum total of all living things on Earth, including humans, animals, insects and plants.
- Nature is a little broader; it is biodiversity as well as all of the other things on which biodiversity depends and which interact in our environment, including water, soil, rocks, oceans, and how those things are interconnected.
- Ecosystems are the interaction between living and non-living elements within a particular context with the interdependencies among various components contributing to the delivery of diverse values and underpinning the flourishing of our economy. Understanding and preserving these ecosystems is crucial for maintaining the wellbeing of both natural and human environments.
Dr Morgain goes on to discuss why biodiversity is in crisis and is declining faster than at any point in human history, with key causes including land use transformation, overexploitation and the movement of goods around the world. She highlights the risk of collapse across the whole system when we start to see losses in some parts of the system, noting that biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is now considered one of the fastest deteriorating global risks over the decade.
Why biodiversity and ecosystems are critical for building resilient and sustainable businesses (Sarah Day, Edge Impact at 15:46)
In this section, the panelists discuss the nature-related risks and opportunities for businesses and their supply chains.
Sarah highlights the importance of nature in reaching decarbonization targets, noting that it’s estimated that it will be responsible for around one third of us reaching our climate goals because of the important role it plays in carbon sequestration.
She discusses the relationship between businesses’ impacts and their dependencies on nature and ecosystem services, and notes that where the longevity of those services is threatened, so too is the longevity of businesses and their operations. She emphasizes that building nature into businesses’ decision-making is therefore going to be crucial for building resilience into business models, not just for businesses with direct dependencies, but also for those that lend to and invest in these businesses.
Sarah discusses the need for businesses to identify which of their suppliers and their spend categories or investments could potentially undermine their own business’s longevity through their activities and impacts on nature, which will provide an early warning on the inherent sustainability of the suppliers’ operations.
In addition to recognizing the importance of gathering data and public reporting, Sarah goes on to discuss how deepening understanding of businesses’ supply chains and nature-related dependencies can enable identification of gaps and risks, which then helps to uncover opportunities for proactively building business resilience and working towards a nature-positive state.
The panelists highlight the importance of partnerships and the role of First Nations people in considering place-based solutions to create nature positive outcomes, recognizing that the most biodiverse systems are the ones managed by Indigenous peoples around the world.
How can businesses integrate considerations regarding biodiversity and nature into their decision-making? (Dr Rachel Morgain, Melbourne Biodiversity Institute at 27:17)
The panelists discuss examples of issues businesses should consider when identifying their dependencies on nature and note that tools are being developed to support businesses in assessing their biodiversity impacts across their whole supply chains or investment portfolios.
They emphasize the importance of looking internally to start with, looking through supply chains and understanding the hot spots, including undertaking regional and place-based analysis. They highlight how this will help uncover gaps in data as well as bring awareness of the business’s circle of control, influence and concern, which will help determine what action businesses can take and what tools they can use to inform their decision-making.
The Panelists discussed the benefits of businesses developing a clear 5-year plan and emphasized the importance of getting this right from the get-go, avoiding “green rushing” and leveraging existing tools, as well as lessons from climate and human rights assessments.
The panelists highlight the shift in conversations from supply chain resilience towards nature positive regeneration, as well as the interconnectedness of biodiversity risk with other sustainability issues, including physical climate risk, human rights and health and wellbeing. The panelists emphasize the importance of not considering these issues in isolation and the increasing trend towards integrating teams within businesses to address this issue. The panelists mention key frameworks and standards relevant to biodiversity and nature that have implications for reporting and procurement practices, including the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the TNFD, the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, ISSB standards and a recent legal opinion, which will lead to greater scrutiny by boards of nature-related risks (see resources below). The panelists go on to provide some practical tips on how to approach discussions with boards on this topic, including (where relevant) drawing the link between biodiversity and nature and the products and services they source or produce.
LINKS TO RESOURCES
- Sebastian Hartford-Davis and Zoe Bush, “Nature-related risks and directors’ duties”, Joint Memorandum of Opinion, 24 October 2023
- Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, December 2022
- Gregorius Nugroho and Dr Evan Center, Global Compact Network Australia, “Blog: SBTN & TNFD: Unpacking Disclosure Frameworks for Nature”, September 2023
- Science Based Targets Network
- World Economic Forum, “The Global Risks Report 2023: 18th edition – Insight Report”, 2023
- Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) Recommendations, August 2023
- The TNFD Forum, which provides a platform for organizations to signal their support for the work of the Taskforce, contribute to the further development of the TNFD additional guidance, and to learn from each other through pilot testing and focus groups.
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