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IFC looks at each and every environmental and social issue from two perspectives: how to manage the risk and how to secure the opportunity. These are the foundation stones of sustainable business and both require active, informed management.
When addressing biodiversity, these foundation stones are obscured for many private sector companies. Biodiversity is a broad term, subject to different definitions and different value interpretations, depending on whom you ask. It is a global concept but decisions often play out at the local (at times, micro) level. Many private sector companies – including those in the emerging markets where IFC does business – understand that biodiversity is important, but also complicated: what to do is not always apparent.
Helping companies operating in the emerging markets understand, manage and benefit from biodiversity is the goal of this guide. The emerging markets focus is appropriate not only for IFC, but for biodiversity too, given that emerging markets hold the majority of the world's most significant biodiversity assets.
The guide provides an overview of issues surrounding biodiversity, including its importance to society and the relationship of biodiversity to business. It does not seek to be definitive: with so many excellent resources publicly available, the guide is as much about navigation as it is about advice. Where IFC does have experience to draw on, however, we do so and, as a result, the guide benefits from case studies from IFC's investment portfolio.
If in using this guide, you improve your ability to advise on the role of the private sector in biodiversity management, we will have met our objective. We also hope to foster more discussion on business opportunities: the new markets, premium pricing and improved operating efficiencies that biodiversity can offer. Please let us know how we are doing: we'd like to hear from you. Comments, ideas and suggestions can be sent to us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Note on IFC's Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability
IFC has social and environmental criteria for the projects it finances in emerging markets – including specific criteria on biodiversity. These have been updated and approved by IFC's Board of Directors and are now in force. For further details, you may download the introduction [PDF] to our new Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability.
Funding for this guide was provided by IFC's Social Responsibility practice area (formerly known as the Corporate Citizenship Facility, a donor-funded facility managed by IFC). Concept development was undertaken by IFC in collaboration with The World Conservation Union and Fauna & Flora International.
The guide was edited by Amy Sweeting and designed for the web by Rashanikka Hayley.
Many other individuals have provided time and materials to the guide. The list includes clients, staff, consultants and partners, including those who participated in the April 2004 workshop in Gland, Switzerland. We are grateful to all of them.