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Who can help me develop an effective biodiversity strategy?

Partnerships: Building alliances with outside organizations

Biodiversity is a shared resource, and approaches to conserve and manage it effectively in the long term need to be collaborative. To build and implement an effective, lasting biodiversity strategy, most companies will need to reach out and form relationships with non-governmental organizations, government agencies, local communities, civil society groups, academia, competitors, and other industry sectors. Partnerships[PDF] can increase a company's access to biodiversity information and technical expertise, improve operational efficiency, build internal capacity and motivate staff, expand access to financial resources, and enhance corporate reputation and credibility.

However, building alliances is not without its risks. A partnership may also be interpreted as a company's ceding some control over its internal policy, making a high commitment in terms of people and time, diverting its focus, and pledging a large up-front investment in internal and external capacity building. Some partnerships bring with them cultural and communication challenges and an increased risk of reputational damage if the partnership fails.

Engaging with stakeholders from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds can be a complex process, requiring commitment, honesty and transparency from all involved parties. For an alliance to be successful, all parties need to agree on common objectives, the definition of key terminology, and the timeframe and governance of the partnership. The partners need to recognize each others' cultural and other differences, as well as their capacity constraints, and accept that the partnership building[PDF] may take time and require compromise from both sides.

Not all partnership decisions require up-front commitments of time or resources - the decision can be as simple as deciding to share information. The Conservation Commons initiative allows companies to contribute to a collaborative, global biodiversity effort simply by agreeing to share data. Administered by IUCN - The World Conservation Union, the purpose of the Conservation Commons is to ensure open access and fair use of data, information, knowledge and expertise on the conservation of biodiversity for the benefit of the global conservation community and beyond. Those who wish to participate are asked to endorse a set of principlesgoverning the initiative. As of March 2006, more than 50 organizations have endorsed the principles, including BP, Shell Exploration and Rio Tinto.

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