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The Role Businesses Can Play in Preserving Biodiversity

Contributed by: Laura Anderson, Sustainability Analyst, Schneider Electric

Laura is part of the Schneider Electric - South America Sustainability Team where she leads the company’s Access to Energy Program in Brazil, Chile and Argentina, working with clients and other partners to develop an inclusive and sustainable energy value chain in the region.

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth and, without it, humans would have no future. The fact is that we only have water to drink, air to breathe, and food to eat because of it (think of how plants generate oxygen and bees pollinate food crops) and, unfortunately, humanity is putting unsustainable pressure on it. Currently, 1 million species are at risk of extinction and 75% of the planet’s land surface has been significantly altered due to human activities. The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as one of the top five threats humanity will face in the next 10 years and found that $44 trillion of economic value generation (over half the world’s total GDP) is likely at risk as a result of the dependence of business on nature and its services.

The data is daunting, and the window for action is closing, but 2021 will be an emblematic year for biodiversity, and businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to engage in the global dialogue to help steer the world in a nature-positive direction. This October, 196 countries are set to agree on a Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In the same way that the Paris Climate Agreement acted as a clear, universal, and implementable accord that has leveraged much of the climate commitments and action we've seen so far, the Post-2020 Framework will bring nature to the forefront. The goal is to attain the CBD vision for 2050, “Living in Harmony with Nature”, and the framework is a crucial step for its achievement.

The CBD’s vision for 2050 is critical and symbolic, especially as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shown the catastrophic impacts of ignoring biophysical risks. If recovery efforts do not address climate change and nature loss, the window of opportunity to avoid their worst impact will be lost. There is hope, however. Starting in 2020, we entered a historic decade of action to achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which cover some of society’s biggest social and environmental issues, including climate change and nature loss. Furthermore, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has presented humanity with an unparalleled opportunity to “build back better”.

Business engagement in the CBD’s COP 15 will be key to ensure the biodiversity agenda is aligned with business expectations and based on specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound goals. The Post-2020 Framework will build on lessons learned from the failed 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity to create the foundation that will help the world reverse nature loss by 2030 and live in harmony with nature by 2050. It will also give way to policies and regulations at regional and national levels that will impact companies’ operations and their ability to create nature-friendly business models. Most importantly, the agreement can unleash new business opportunities and create a level playing field for companies globally.

Business involvement was key for the successful adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Corporations made themselves heard by making voluntary climate commitments before the conference and by being present and active in the lead-up to and during the conference itself. So, how can businesses help make sure the Post-2020 Framework creates the right foundation for a nature-positive world?

  1.  Get informed and understand the scale of the problem:

  2. Sign the Business for Nature’s Call to Action to show the business momentum in favor of ambitious policies and action on nature.

  3. Measure their company’s impact on nature and set Science-Based Targets to address them.

    • Schneider Electric’s assessment of its impact, and how it created its biodiversity strategy can be seen here.
    •  Biodiversity commitments can be submitted on the CBD Action Agenda.
  4. Participate in the COP15 Business and Biodiversity Forum.

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