Biodiversity management is the next generation of corporate sustainability strategy. Biodiversity, or the variety of life in an ecosystem, is an important factor in the ecological services that make life on this planet possible.
Biodiversity supplies us with crucial pharmaceutical ingredients, promotes stability in ecosystems, and gives us a sense of wonder and appreciation for our natural environment. The Amazon Rainforest produces 20% of the oxygen we breathe.Pollinators make it possible to grow the crops we eat.
For starters, currently there is no established mechanism for attributing economic value to biodiversity. And in most cases, the biggest impacts on biodiversity usually occur far upstream in the supply chain. That means that downstream companies may be far removed from activities that damage ecosystems and therefore struggle with a lack of control.
To manage these complexities, corporate leaders are tackling biodiversity through a number of strategies from both risk and opportunity perspectives.
In a famous example, Coca-Cola invested in wetland restoration to support natural water filtration. Companies have also started to look for ways to protect biodiversity to promote goodwill with consumers and the communities in which they work. General Motors, for example, has set the goal of certifying all manufacturing sites as certified wildlife habitats.
In terms of innovation and opportunity, businesses have invented a number of ways to use biodiversity to create value. These are just a few of the more popular ideas:
Market biodiversity and its protection as a key value proposition to customers
Leverage cross-sector partnerships to promote transparency
Look to big data to support decision-making
Utilize natural processes to replace cost-side efforts
Build new products inspired by or directly using biodiversity and biomimicry
Account for biodiversity as a revenue-generating asset
By Mary Fritz