Improving biodiversity information in collaboration with the private sector

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The Challenge

The operations of large companies, particularly in the extractives sector, have huge potential for environmental impact. Business reputation increasingly depends on working to minimize this damage. Many oil and gas, and mining companies want and need to know how to manage biodiversity, and how to plan and manage their activities so as to avoid or mitigate impact. All too frequently, they lack access to the information they need to do this effectively.

Companies will be able to reduce their negative impacts on biodiversity if they:

  • know where biodiversity sensitivities exist
  • know what their potential impact on biodiversity might be
  • know how to mitigate impact
  • have sufficient incentives to safeguard biodiversity and manage potential impact
  • are operating within a legal and policy framework that supports mitigation. 

Our solution & impact

Proteus is a unique, voluntary collaboration between UNEP-WCMC and 12 large, forward-thinking businesses to support the provision of biodiversity information. Collaborations of this kind, between conservation organizations and the private sector, are increasingly seen as fundamental to halting the decline in biodiversity.

Based on the conviction that good decisions are based on good information, Proteus invests to improve the quality of biodiversity data for the benefit of biodiversity decision makers worldwide.

The Proteus team at UNEP-WCMC:

  • briefs companies on the global biodiversity and ecosystem services agenda, current trends and their implications for business
  • provides companies with access to terrestrial and marine data sets housed at UNEP-WCMC and online tools such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT)
  • trains companies in the use, analysis and interpretation of biodiversity data
  • provides a forum for industry discussions on biodiversity and ecosystem services, supported by conservation experts.

Businesses work with UNEP-WCMC to use these knowledge resources for diverse activities, including project screening and risk assessment, the integration of biodiversity into project planning, and compliance with performance standards and regulations for habitat and species protection.

Outputs of Proteus investments include:

  • developments in quality and quantity of global data on biodiversity, in particular on protected areas and marine and coastal habitats
  • standardization of key data sets, including the World Database on Protected Areas
  • improvements to several online tools, including, the Ocean Data Viewer and IBAT
  • integration of biodiversity information from different sources and organizations through data partnerships and the IBAT initiative
  • development of the Global Biodiversity Agenda, an information website for keeping up-to-date with biodiversity research, science and policy.

These outputs ensure that Proteus has an impact far beyond the private sector. The development, improvement and dissemination of global data and information on biodiversity benefits not only business decision makers, but also governments, academics, conservation organizations and a wider public audience. 

Expertise & Team

UNEP-WCMC has the capacity to convene a wide range of highly-qualified experts from its own staff and colleagues in partner organizations to provide the knowledge and insights required by members of Proteus. This convening power is coupled with a reputation for neutrality, promoted through association with UNEP. This makes UNEP-WCMC uniquely placed to host companies in a secure forum for discussion of biodiversity issues.

Proteus is managed and coordinated by the Business and Biodiversity team. In addition to managing Proteus and supporting the global development of business and biodiversity management approaches, the team also works directly with individual companies on projects to embed biodiversity in company policy, strategy and operational procedures. 

Partners & Donors

Members of Proteus include: Barrick Gold, BHP, BP, Chevron, eni, ExxonMobil, Repsol, RioTinto, Shell, Statoil, Total, Woodside.