Businesses depend on or impact biodiversity, either directly through their activities or indirectly through their supply chains. In order to manage impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, and demonstrate improved performance, businesses and financial institutions need robust measurement approaches to understand and manage risks and leverage opportunities.
While pressure for corporate biodiversity disclosure is increasing, driven by investors, policymakers and civil society, current reporting practices on biodiversity are limited by a lack of broadly accepted measurement approaches to underpin them.
Businesses and financial institutions are increasingly being called upon to demonstrate how they are positively contributing to biodiversity challenges and feeding into societal efforts to address them (e.g. the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the Sustainable Development Goals). While there has been some alignment around using approaches like the mitigation hierarchy to achieve no net loss or net gain performance objectives for biodiversity, there has been no uniform way for the private sector to measure progress towards these goals.
Significant progress has been made in recent years, with a rapid diversification of measurement approaches, many of which have been piloted by businesses and financial institutions. However, these are developing in parallel for different sectors to answer different needs, with little opportunity for alignment between the differing methodologies. This has the potential to confuse businesses with a proliferation of approaches undermining their uptake.
In addition, there are technical challenges with measuring biodiversity. For example, it is difficult to capture biodiversity by one simple indicator. Biodiversity includes many species, habitats, ecosystems and genetic diversity with an array of values. Biodiversity differs from place to place and so local characteristics make it harder to measure and compare. As a consequence, generally accepted biodiversity measurement approaches for application by the business and financial community are not yet available at the product, project, site, supply chain, corporate or sector level.
As approaches develop, it is important that they are broadly consistent and scientifically robust (a demand from all stakeholders, including the business community), and pragmatic (a clear demand from the business community). It also needs to be clear to private sector users why different approaches might be required for different business applications.
The Aligning Biodiversity Measures for Business collaboration led by UNEP-WCMC and with partners across >20 organisations convenes key stakeholders to improve clarity and build consensus on how businesses and financial institutions can measure and report on performance. The collaboration seeks to form a common view on the measurement, monitoring and disclosure of corporate impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, and then to integrate credible and comprehensive corporate measurement into external reporting/disclosure and global biodiversity policy.
The first year of the collaboration – funded by in-kind investment by collaborating partners and the Boticário Group Foundation – laid the groundwork for alignment but did not achieve alignment of methodologies in itself. To date a series of workshops (the first in Brussels in March 2019 and the second in Brazil in November 2019) and webinars have brought together developers of measurement approaches and key stakeholders to explore challenges on data, metrics, boundaries and baselines, business applications and disclosure.
This work confirmed the need for alignment between measurement approaches, a demand for clarity and standardisation from industry and set out a series of recommendations developed in conjunction with the EU B@B Platform for further action.
In 2020, information from the collaboration’s working groups was integrated into the Biodiversity Guidance to accompany the Natural Capital Protocol and the Initial Guidance for Companies on Science-Based Targets for Nature. The collaboration will also submit an Information Document to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) highlighting recommendations for Parties on how to support the private sector implement the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and launch an accompanying report on “Corporate biodiversity measurement and disclosure within the current and future global policy context”.
Looking forward the collaboration will re-convene key stakeholders to work together and identify current gaps within available corporate biodiversity measurement approaches, develop sector-specific guidance on measurement for site-based companies, supply chain companies and financial institutions, and work towards standardisation of measurement and disclosure of impacts and dependencies on nature by the private sector.
This work is led by our Business and Biodiversity Programme (Julie Dimitrijevic and Katie Leach). Our team brings significant expertise in the development and interpretation of biodiversity indicators and metrics for the private sector.
The Aligning Biodiversity Measures for Business collaboration is a broad partnership including:
Many of these partners bring existing private-sector networks with which they are actively working on measurement approaches, and with whom they will consult and engage in the delivery of the collaboration’s objectives.
Phase 1 & 2 of the collaboration was funded by the Boticário Group Foundation.