OpenNESS at the third EU Business and Biodiversity annual meeting
Businesses are taking big steps towards integrating biodiversity considerations into their strategies – or better: integrating natural capital. This was the general feeling at the well-attended annual meeting of the EU B@B Platform in The Hague this week.
The event took stock of actions and outcomes of three years of work in the Platform and looked forward to the next steps.
ECNC’s Ben Delbaere presented a poster on the OpenNESS project (in which ECNC is a partner) showcasing the link with SMEs, the value of the OpenNESS case studies, and the services offered by the recently launched knowledge platform Oppla.
In his opening speech, Willem Henk Streepstra of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW, host of the event) was quite honest about business working from a spirit of self-interest. The challenge therefore is to ensure that biodiversity or natural capital is integrated into this thinking. It was recognized that the private sector has an essential role to play in conserving biodiversity, but for this to happen biodiversity needs to fit the type of accounting that is commonplace in business and finance institutions. As Richard Kooloos of ABN Amro Bank said: ‘Money is the language of the banks – talk that language if you want to be taken seriously’.
European Commission DG Environment Director Humberto Delgado Rosa challenged this statement by pointing to the need to also integrate people’s values and emotions into business thinking.
Nevertheless, it was clear that natural capital accounting and the many developments in this field are very relevant to the business and finance community. Sharing experiences and practice was seen as a good way forward to encourage more businesses to join in this move. To support this need the event launched the EU community of practice on finance and biodiversity, to be run under the EU B@B Platform.
The OpenNESS work on natural capital and ecosystem services, and the many experiences from the case studies were welcomed by participants who visited the OpenNESS poster at the event. In particular, the role of Oppla in sharing best practices and offering an existing community and marketplace received much attention. As Tiago Freitas of the EC DG Research & Innovation said in his speech: ‘Oppla is a readily available tool that can support SMEs and other businesses in engaging in further innovation through nature-based solutions.’
The event was organized in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 23 November 2016 and was attended by some 150 representatives from business, finance institutions, government, NGOs and the European Commission.