Rio+20 Business Focus: Managing biodiversity is managing risk for business, says CBD

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RTCC is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

The aim is to demonstrate how Sustainable Development is becoming a reality on every continent, country and city.

Here, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity explains why managing biodiversity is a way for business to manage risk.

Managing diversity is a way for businesses to manage risk, says UNCBD

Business is one of the key stakeholders in the global mission to preserve biodiversity.

As for all of us, businesses depend upon biodiversity and ecosystem services to survive.  The products and services provided by the natural environment are the basis for stable, predictable and profitable activities.

Unfortunately, current business practices are, for the most part, one of the main contributors to the serious loss of biodiversity.

This needs to change.

However conserving biodiversity is not merely a question of saving the environment.It is also an important business opportunity.

Consumers are becoming much more aware of biodiversity issues, and as a consequence they are increasingly looking for sustainable products and services.

Business, therefore, faces an increasing level of scrutiny for its impact on biodiversity. With this added scrutiny, comes an increased risk of tougher regulations and a more unforgiving marketplace.

Businesses are also increasingly held responsible for the supply chains through which their products and services are produced.

That encompass the actions of farmers, fishers and a host of other producers whose activities can have an enormous impact on biodiversity. Thus businesses must not only look at their own processes, but at all aspects of the lifecycles of their products and services.

As a result of this, it can be seen that managing biodiversity is, for businesses, a way of managing risk.

Research shows that biodiversity loss can lead to higher costs for inputs to business processes, or unpredictable changes in the way in which a business operates.

Consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable products and services

Ignoring biodiversity can therefore result in loss of profit and market share, and cause severe disruption to existing business models.

Businesses, being a prime driver of biodiversity loss and a major economic force in most economies, will play a key role in determining whether countries meet their 2020 targets.

If businesses resist change and continue their destructive practices, they will act as a severe impediment to the political adoption of meaningful targets.

Conversely, if businesses are “on board” they can act as a positive force and partner with regards to biodiversity conservation and can help to move the political agenda forwards in a meaningful and constructive fashion.

I want to call upon business everywhere to work together to preserve live on earth, and in so doing, work to build successful and sustainable business models for the 21st century and beyond.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias is Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).

This article is part of a series commissioned by the Rio Conventions for their RioPlus Business project.

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