Biodiversity is often synonymous with endangered species, remarkable biodiversity, symbols to be protected. With growing population and global consumption, biodiversity is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. This loss of biodiversity has major implications for the viability of businesses that depend on them.
Businesses have an impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services. They also depend on them. Degradation of ecosystems leads to a number of risks in corporate performance (increased costs or uncertainty for businesses that depend on ecosystem services as a result of the loss of biodiversity, etc.).
Conversely biodiversity and the preservation of ecosystem could create new opportunities for business and society: new products and processes less (or sustainably) dependent on ecosystems, access to biological and geneticresources, creation of new green jobs, etc.
Many businesses are not yet fully aware of the extent of their dependencies and their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Inclusion of biodiversity by companies involves profound changes such as reconsidering the critical role of ecosystems in the functioning of the industry and the related activity, whether primary, secondary or tertiary.
In order to encourage major market players to integrate biodiversity, the DG Environment, as part of the Federal Plan 2009 – 2013 for integrating biodiversity in 4 key Federal sectors, initiated a study in 2011: "Economic transition: Consumption and production patterns: Encouraging important market players to integrate biodiversity". Its main objective was to promote sustainable patterns of production and consumption and to fully explore the potential of sustainably using biodiversity and natural resources for a triple win: economic, social and environmental. This study also contributes to clear transition to a low-carbon and natural resource efficient society because here biodiversity is promoted through a broader environmental approach in the context of sustainable development.
The study consists of three major parts:
1. selecting some priority sectors/industries through analysing their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity;
2. identifying and evaluating existing measures to promote biodiversity in businesses and public policies, especially by analysing the existing instruments (regulatory, co-regulatory and voluntary) for their ability to reduce the impact of Belgian companies on biodiversity;
3. identifying policies and measures to be taken by the federal government.
The analysis of impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and on ecosystem services shows that:
- each sector of activity depends on and has an impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services, some more than others;
- these impacts and dependencies must be identified and assessed throughout the value chain to identify the most effective instruments in order to reduce them.
Three sectors have been selected:
• food sector: the food processing sector and the upstream sectors (agriculture, fishery) and the downstream sector (distribution) in the supply chain;
• chemical sector: the chemical and life sciences sector and the upstream sectors (agriculture, mineral extraction etc.) and the downstream sector (distribution) in the supply chain;
• the sector of finance and insurance and the downstream sector (distribution) in the supply chain.
Finally, this study proposes a list of instruments that can be supported by the federal government. A french summary of this study is also available.