Transformational change is needed in the systems that underpin our economies so that they benefit nature. In September 2020, NABU (BirdLife in Germany) and Boston Consulting Group released The Biodiversity Imperative for Business – Preserving the Foundations of our Wellbeing report, which highlights that biodiversity provides over US $ 170 trillion in additional annual benefits. of its inherent value, and provides sector-specific recommendations for companies to integrate biodiversity into their economic decisions and processes. Here are the main conclusions:
Biodiversity is the basis of human well-being and of our economic activities
Many of nature’s vital services, such as crop pollination, pest control, drug delivery, greenhouse gas sequestration, flood protection and air pollution control, depend directly on the operation and the diversity of ecosystems. A key finding of the study is that biodiversity provides a value of at least 170-190 trillion US dollars per year – at least twice as much as the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Sixty-five percent of this value is derived from regulatory functions of ecosystems, such as CO2 regulation, waste recycling and erosion prevention. However, this represents a lower limit as only a small part of biodiversity can be expressed in monetary terms. Values such as well-being or joy are difficult to quantify because they are perceived individually and can vary between cultures. On top of that, the intrinsic value of biodiversity – its own value beyond that which it provides to people – can hardly be assessed.
Economic activities fuel the decline in global biodiversity. At the same time, they crucially depend on biodiversity and ecosystem services
Agriculture, forestry and fishing, expansion of infrastructure, extraction of raw materials and industrial production are the main contributors to the alarming loss of global biodiversity. They contribute to it through land use change, direct overexploitation of organisms, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and the spread of invasive species. The modes of production and consumption are fueling this development. Estimates show that in monetary terms we lose 6 to 30 trillion US dollars per year due to biodiversity loss. At the same time, the added value of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors – which currently stands at US $ 3.5 trillion – depends to a large extent on ecosystem services and biodiversity. When we lose these services of nature, the economy also loses.
NABU’s latest report highlights the financial value of biodiversity, in addition to its intrinsic value.
Transformational change is needed to resolve the global emergency. Biodiversity must be integrated into all political decisions and economic processes
Systemic challenges require systemic solutions. An economic paradigm shift is needed, in which all stakeholders – governments, businesses and society – understand nature conservation as a prerequisite for long-term success and well-being. The creation of economic value must go hand in hand with the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. Likewise, the impact of all political decisions on biodiversity must be assessed and taken into account. Governments, businesses and society must act together to make the progress needed to meet the new biodiversity targets and curb the curve of biodiversity loss.
This needs to be based on a landscape perspective: we need a well-connected network of protected areas that focus on key areas for biodiversity as well as integrated land use models to improve biodiversity in areas of production. The latter is characterized by structures and a diversified space for nature, for example for trees, hedges or flowered areas from local seeds, by a wide variety of cultivated plants as well as reduced inputs of pesticides and nutrients. . Joint action on nature and climate is also essential, requiring synergies between biodiversity and climate programs.
It’s time to act. The status quo is not an option. It’s clear what we need to do
The study provides a large number of recommendations for different stakeholders, making it clear that now is the time to act. Politicians have a responsibility to enable the transformative change that is needed. They must implement clear rules and incentives to define the framework for the protection and restoration of biodiversity while ensuring transparency and fair competition. This “levels the playing field” and thus enables the business sector and consumers as a whole to achieve the goal of nature-friendly and climate-neutral production and consumption.
Businesses themselves should also proactively and urgently mainstream biodiversity issues into all economic decisions and processes, in a number of ways. They can collect and disclose data on their ecological footprint and commit to meeting voluntary biodiversity standards. They can build circular economies to minimize resource requirements and land use. They can also get involved in nature restoration projects. And they not only have a responsibility to educate and inform their consumers, customers and employees about the impacts of their products on biodiversity, but they will ultimately benefit from the resulting demand for greener and more respectful products. of the environment, as part of a new positive approach for nature. economy.