New study highlights the need for impact-focused biodiversity indicators for extractive companies

Biodiversity indicators are an essential tool for understanding and managing changes in biodiversity. In association with Stuart Anstee and Associates, and funded by the Proteus Partnership, UNEP-WCMC carried out a scoping study to understand the needs and drivers for biodiversity impact indicators in the private sector.

The study reviewed existing and emerging guidance and approaches to indicator development, and drew on interviews with eleven companies. The preliminary results of the study were discussed with more than 50 representatives from industry and other interested organisations at the annual Proteus meeting in 2017.

The study found that drivers for indicator development vary between site and corporate levels, with clear implications for ensuring a range of indicators are available and fit for purpose to suit the range of needs of stakeholders. Local regulations, investor interest and monitoring compliance against internal standards were all identified, among others, as key drivers for biodiversity monitoring.  

For many companies, monitoring activities are already underway at site level, including monitoring changes in biodiversity and assessing the implementation of biodiversity action plans. However, the aggregation of data and indicators to the corporate level has been challenging. The ability to scale-up on-site data into corporate indicators is vital for effective corporate monitoring and reporting on biodiversity. The study also highlights and reaffirms that any new biodiversity indicators need to be impact-focused, easy to communicate, sensitive to change, and cost effective.

Four models for corporate indicator development were identified for further consideration, ranging from the development of a single composite biodiversity indicator to a framework approach allowing more flexibility in the application of indicators across site and corporate needs. In the next phase of the project UNEP-WCMC and Stuart Anstee and Associates will carry out an in-depth review of the streamlined indicators and models to develop pilot methodologies that can be tested in collaboration with Proteus, IPIECA, and other interested parties.

Image: Tomasz Zajda -

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