TEEB for business report places biodiversity on the business agenda

The special TEEB for Business report on biodiversity was released at the first Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium held in London.

On 13th July, 2010 the first Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium was held in London. The aim of the conference was to explore the business risks related to biodiversity loss and to identify the opportunities when biodiversity is properly integrated into company operations.

The conference featured well-renowned speakers and high quality discussions with representatives from multinational corporations and international environmental NGOs. Many sessions had a practical approach. The topics ranged from the integration of biodiversity considerations into international climate change reduction programmes novel ways to capture monetary benefits from ecosystem services, and biodiversity and sustainable forestry projects.

The highlight of the conference was the presentation of the TEEB for Business report. TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) is an international initiative reporting on the value nature. It provides shadow prices for different ecosystem services by using case studies.

Different TEEB reports exist for different stakeholders and in London the report for business was presented. It outlines the risks biodiversity loss poses to firms and indicates where opportunities exist. According to an assessment backed by the UN called Principles on Responsible Investing (UNPRI) by Trucost, the 3,000 largest companies listed have externalities estimated to be US$ 2.2 trillion per year.

These costs are mainly generated by greenhouse gas emissions, overexploitation and water and air pollution. Biodiversity and ecosystem services account for part of these costs, for instance in the form of water related impacts (water is a provisioning service).

The TEEB report provides a toolbox for action for companies to minimise these costs and to seize opportunities:

1. Identify the impacts and dependencies that your business has on biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES)
2. Assess the business risks and opportunities associated with these impacts and dependencies
3. Develop BES information systems, set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) targets, measure and value performance, and report your results
4. Take action to avoid, minimise and mitigate BES risks, including in-kind compensation (‘offsets’) where appropriate
5. Grasp emerging BES business opportunities, such as cost-efficiencies, new products and new markets
6. Integrate business strategy and action on BES with wider corporate social responsibility initiatives
7. Engage with business associates and stakeholders in government, NGOs and civil society to improve BES guidance and policy

In commenting on the report, different speakers expressed the opinion that the report would sensitise companies and investors to integrate biodiversity considerations into their operations.
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