Biodiversity is a fundamental component of long-term business survival. Businesses rely on genes, species, and ecosystem services as critical inputs into their production processes and depend on healthy ecosystems to treat and dissipate waste, maintain soil and water quality and help control the air composition. For example, agribusiness relies on the diversity of wild relatives of major food crops, as a resource to ensure crop resistance to disease and pests.
At the same time, business and industry can have major negative impacts on biodiversity resources (see below). Yet, while the private sector is part of the problem, it is also part of the solution. The resources and influence of the private sector offer important opportunities for innovative and effective contributions to conservation. Two major international initiatives highlight the role the private sector can play.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is the main international agreement on biodiversity highlights the importance of the private sector in meeting the convention's three main objectives through multi-stakeholder partnerships and industry-driven initiatives. The CBD's objectives are: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a public-private initiative designed to meet the assessment needs of the CBD and other international environmental conventions. The World Bank Group, of which IFC is a part, was a major sponsor of this initiative. The MA report highlights ways in which businesses depend on ecosystem services (such as the provision of water and food, control of pests, flood control and others), how those services are changing, and the ramifications for business and industry. The MA found that two-thirds of these services are being degraded, a situation that presents both challenges and opportunities to business.
Business impacts on biodiversity