2021 A Critical Year for Biodiversity

Environment - May 13, 2021

AUTHOR: Cillian McMahon, ‎Corporate Responsibility Adviser

At BITCI we have been working with businesses on the topic of biodiversity since 2014.

Through our engagement with our member companies, we found that no matter what sector they operate in, they struggled to understand their role when it came to biodiversity and the impact they had. We saw this as an opportunity to shed a light on the role that business could play and over the last number of years, we have rolled out a number of tools to help companies broaden their understanding of biodiversity.

BITCI support on biodiversity

Some highlights include:

Several of our member companies have truly embraced biodiversity and have undertaken a wide variety of initiatives such as Intel who integrated biodiversity into their environmental management systems or Cook Medical, Siemens Healthineers and Janssen Supply Chain who have all created dedicated spaces on their sites for biodiversity enhancement projects. Several of our members have installed bug hotels and bee-hives on their sites while also educating their employees on the importance of biodiversity.

Despite the uptake of biodiversity initiatives by businesses, there are still a number of serious challenges when it comes to biodiversity. Globally, up to one million of the estimated eight million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction and over half of the world’s total GDP is at moderate or severe risk due to nature loss.  In Ireland, 85% of internationally-important habitats are in unfavourable status and over 50% of rivers and lakes  are not in satisfactory ecological health.  A recent report by the National Biodiversity Forum found that the  Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 has had limited success in terms of stopping the decline of biodiversity in Ireland. The report also found that biodiversity protection in Ireland is hampered by inadequate funding and the lack of a single coordinated national environmental policy.

Opportunity for business

Notwithstanding the challenges outlined, there are many opportunities emerging to help businesses engage in halting biodiversity loss.  At the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COP15) which is due to take place later this year, the international community will agree on a global post-2020 agenda for biodiversity. As was the case for the Paris Agreement on climate change, an ambitious, clear, and implementable international agreement at COP15 will ensure that the biodiversity agenda is raised to the highest political level. Business for Nature which BITCI is a partner of is using the collective business voice to call on governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss in this decade. The Science Based Targets Initiative launched a Science Based Targets for Nature  pilot last year which aims to establish  a clear pathway using science to define the role of companies in protecting and restoring nature. The EU Biodiversity Strategy which was launched as part of the European Green Deal also sets ambitious biodiversity targets such as maintaining 30% of all land and sea for protected areas and reducing the use of chemical pesticides by 2030.  More locally, the All Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) has enabled 278 businesses to carry out at least one pollinator-friendly action within the first year of signing up, and to carry out two more additional actions within the following five years. The National Biodiversity Data Centre has recently raised the ambition of the AIPP by increasing the number of biodiversity actions which communities, local authorities, schools, and businesses can do to make land more pollinator friendly and increased guidance to support the recommended actions.

Call to action to business

Over the last number of years, we have seen businesses make serious strides in terms of understanding, measuring, and reducing their carbon emissions and this has been demonstrated in the uptake of our Low Carbon Pledge. However, carbon reduction measures are meaningless on a dead planet. Additionally, as companies begin to explore their Scope 3 emissions, they are discovering biodiversity related risks that must be addressed. It is time that companies start to properly understand their impacts and dependencies on nature and take serious action to protect and enhance biodiversity.  They also need clear guidance and support from the Irish government on how to adequately tackle the challenges and implement the necessary actions needed to achieve the ambitious targets coming from EU and CBD.

Business in the Community Ireland will continue to support our member companies on their biodiversity journeys.

Find out more about how we can support your business visit our Services Offering.


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