Yesterday I participated in what we call a “knowledge café”. Building on the concept of the philosophical cafés, whereby a group of thinkers gather to discuss important questions, the Congress’s knowledge café aims to achieve a deep level of analysis on challenging conservation issues.
Both cafés that I attended dealt with Business and Biodiversity platforms, but the first café was focused on the Netherlands and its “Leaders for Nature” initiative, while the second café was organised by Keidanren and the IUCN National Committee in Japan and reviewed the situation in Japan. In both cases, I presented the situation in Europe, where we have several national initiatives, a European Business and Biodiversity Platform managed by IUCN on behalf of the European Commission and an additional European Business and Biodiversity Campaign.
We talked about the value of national platforms, the composition of such groups, the leadership and administrative support that is required to make them happen, and compared experiences.
One of the interesting differences between Europe and Japan that I observed is that companies in Japan appear to be well aware of the Decade of Biodiversity and the Aichi Targets, while this is not the case in Europe. On the other hand, some of the European platforms have managed to change company behaviour, which seems to be less apparent in Japan. The role of Members in these platforms also varies from country to country. There is clearly no “one size fits all” approach.
During the discussions a few critical issues were raised, and I do not have an answer to these questions. They included:
- how much should companies pay to be part of a platform like Leaders for Nature, and should a fee structure be established?
- what criteria, if any, should you use to allow companies to join, and should you reject companies with a bad record?
- how can you be sure that being part of a platform forces the company to change, and what do you do when a company uses its participation only for greenwash purposes?
These are issues that we will touch upon again later today in a session that about European Business and Biodiversity initiatives that I will be moderating at the Business and Economy pavilion.