I had the pleasure today to host a discussion in the Business and Economy Pavilion at the IUCN World Conservation Congress about an issue that is close to my heart: biodiversity and business in Europe. I think this is one of the most exciting areas of work for IUCN Europe, and there is a lot IUCN could do in partnership with the private sector.
I introduced a recent study of national business and biodiversity platforms in Europe, within the context of the European Business and Biodiversity Platform and the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign. The study found that there is a lot happening in a few European countries, but that in many EU Member states there is no contact between the private sector and the NGO community. The main question I asked is why this would be the case and I suggested that it is most likely a combination of lack of awareness at the companies of how important nature is for them, and a lack of proactive engagement from the NGOs in the country. I offered that IUCN will look into this in the years to come, funding permitting.
Thomas Koetz from the European Commission reflected on the achievements of the European Business & Biodiversity Platform during the past three years, and mentioned that a possible next phase will have to include a coordination function of the many national activities that are going on, as well as a mechanism for exchange of information. He suggested that a platform should also guide companies to help implement the Aichi Targets and contribute to the European Biodiversity Strategy.
Eva Juul Jensen from the Ministry of Environment in Denmark introduced the new Business & Biodiversity initiative that is being developed in the Nordic countries, with a regional steering committee and different focus in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden (Iceland is not yet part of the discussions).
Petri Heinonen from UPM Kymmene explained that a company would want to obtain a benefit from joining a Business and Biodiversity Platform, and that companies expect rapid action. One key question for any business representative is whether additional costs related to biodiversity conservation can be passed on to the customer.
I was very pleased with the presentations from the panel and the interactions with the audience. I hope that there will be a next phase of the European Business and Biodiversity Platform, and we will continue our engagement with the Nordic countries and with UPM Kymmene.
After this session, Daan Wensink from the IUCN National Committee in the Netherlands introduced the Dutch experience in collaboration between the private sector and the conservation community, and he had invited Omer van Renterghem from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put Leaders for Nature within a political context. Violaine Berger from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development provided further information about the joint training and capacity building activities.
Thanks to all who participated