Business and Biodiversity


Business case for biodiversity

Loss of biodiversity continues to be one of the key environmental issues in Europe and around the globe. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that the changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services due to human activities were more rapid in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, and the drivers of change that cause biodiversity loss and lead to changes in ecosystem services are either steady and show no evidence of declining over time, or are increasing in intensity. Despite growing political commitment and global and European policy trends, so far the practical involvement of the business community in biodiversity conservation has been one of the main setbacks for further progress to halt the decline of biodiversity in Europe in the foreseeable future.

The business community, multinationals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) alike, have a strong role to play in delivering biodiversity. At the same time, businesses can benefit from biodiversity and its sustainable management and use.

The project aimed to promote the business case for biodiversity in Europe by mainstreaming biodiversity concerns in the business operations of selected companies and disseminating biodiversity conservation knowledge to selected Swiss companies. At the same time, the project wanted to demonstrate what benefits businesses could expect from biodiversity and its sustainable management.

In 2008 ECNC, in close cooperation with IUCN Regional Office for Europe/Countdown 2010 Secretariat, started a successful cooperation with a number of Swiss companies, including Nestlé, Swiss Re and Coop. This cooperation was further developed during 2009 and 2010.

Time frame
The project ran from January 2008 until December 2010.


Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

The project strived to achieve increased commitments from companies to biodiversity conservation, which are displayed in a number of the outcomes. Furthermore, the experiences gained and lessons learned during the project were used to contribute to business and biodiversity initiatives and provide input into policy decisions and papers. In addition to awareness raising about biodiversity and its value for business, the main outcomes of the project were: 
  • Nestl? developed a document, Why is biodiversity important for Nestl??, which formed the background for a biodiversity statement for the company.
  • A training session on the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for business and their relation to the core activities of a company (in this case Nestl?) was developed; it was implemented during the Nestl? workshop for Safety, Health and Environmental Sustainability managers in the Euro zone in London in June 2010. This pilot training formed the basis for the development of a training checklist to copy this training effort to other businesses.
  • The project aimed to link up efforts to other projects in order to create synergies to increase the scope of the implementation of biodiversity efforts in the business sector. In light of this, the communication activities for the Business Case for Biodiversity project promoted other initiatives, which contacts were encouraged to join. Nestec, a subsidiary of Nestl?, joined the European Business @ Biodiversity Platform, a project in which ECNC is involved, under the lead of IUCN. Other companies also investigated the possibilities to join this platform.
  • A start was made on developing the Biodiversity Finance Clearing House Mechanism, currently available on the ECNC website, into a Business and Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism.
  • In light of the Business Case for Biodiversity project, ECNC in cooperation with Middlemarch Environment Ltd, started work on developing the European Biodiversity Standard (EBS) as an instrument for companies to assess their biodiversity performance at a site or within a company and to receive an award.
  • On the basis of the experience gained and lessons learned within the project, ECNC provided input into various initiatives, such as the European Business @ Biodiversity Platform, and policy papers, e.g. input to recommendations, comments and speaking points for the CBD discussion paper ?How to engage business? (UNEP/CBD/WG-RI/3/2/Add.2) and suggestions for assisting in the implementation of the COP9 Decision 1X/26 ?Promoting business engagement?.