Businesses urged to embrace biodiversity

Businesses must wake up to the opportunities of conserving biodiversity, according to a new report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Shell International.

Building Biodiversity Business
argues businesses should see going green as an opportunity and governments need to encourage this by increasing commercial rewards and penalising companies that fail to protect the environment.

Ecotourism is one example of profitable conservation, according to the report, which says environmentally-friendly tourism is expanding at a rate of 20-30% per year, compared with 9% for tourism as a whole.

The report, which is the result of a twelve-month study, called for national and international policies to make it more attractive for businesses to protect the environment.

Dr Joshua Bishop, IUCN’s senior advisor on Economics and the Environment, and one of the authors of the report, told edie: “Governments can look at the experience that they have had with climate change, where they have used a range of instruments, and see whether they can adapt that approach.”

IUCN and Shell also recommend better access to finance for biodiversity businesses, which may need to take the form of subsidies or grants to help entrepreneurs succeed.

Many businesses that are historically responsible for the loss of biodiversity are now starting to lead the way in protecting the environment, according to the report.

Sachin Kapila, group biodiversity adviser for Shell and a co-author of the report, said Shell has set a biodiversity standard and tries to build biodiversity protection into all of its projects.

He told edie: “There’s always more that we could be doing. We are never going to satisfy some organisations, but that is not the point.

“The point is to determine the level of the risk and work out the most appropriate way to minimise that risk.

“We are looking at projects where we can turn that risk into a positive.”

Kate Martin

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