A report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Dec 2020)
The continuing loss of biodiversity presents the risk that one million of the eight million species on earth are threatened with extinction within the next few decades. The global biodiversity crisis has received less attention as a policy priority than climate change, but is equal in the severity of its consequences and interrelated to a significant degree. It is an existential crisis in that biodiversity supports the many ecosystem services on which human beings depend, including food supplies, clean water and climate regulation as well as our quality of life.
Business has a considerable role to play in protecting biodiversity by ensuring that any adverse impacts from business activity are avoided and by working towards a situation of environmental net gain. Just as human beings are dependent on biodiversity, so too are businesses for supplies of products, quality of products, water availability, health and safety, and avoidance of environmental risk.
Many businesses are also embracing biodiversity and environmental sustainability as a means of differentiating themselves competitively with new products, new customer markets and enhanced access to finance.
This report has been commissioned by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (NPWS), with the co-operation of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE), to examine the relationship between business and biodiversity in Ireland and the potential for establishing a platform to support and encourage business engagement with biodiversity.
The survey and interviews revealed a wide variation in the extent to which different sectors recognised and took action to manage their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. It found that:
● The main drivers related to the overriding values of individual companies, reputational risk, existing regulation, the prospect of future regulation that could require companies to take actions, avoidance of environmental liability risk, and consumer or investor preferences. These drivers include both endogenous and exogenous factors, and the value of measures to nudge, incentivise and, in some instances, prescribe, appropriate measures.
● The main barriers related to challenges in demonstrating the relationship between biodiversity and sustainability, difficulty in understanding the relevance of biodiversity, a lack of guidance from Government, challenges in convincing management of the importance of biodiversity, and a lack of metrics and data to measure performance with respect to biodiversity