Business and Biodiversity
Working With Business & Applying Conservation Science
Why we are working with business on biodiversity
We can see a positive shift in industry with businesses increasingly taking notice of biodiversity. This is not only to protect it for its own intrinsic value. Progressive business leaders now realise that accounting for nature makes sense for the sustainable growth of businesses around the world.
Through her Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, Dr Prue Addison is conducting translational research with multinational businesses, government agencies and NGOs to bring lessons from conservation science to help mainstream biodiversity in the private sector. Prue's work focuses on corporate biodiversity accountability in particular, helping businesses develop systems to measure, evaluate and report on their biodiversity performance.
The following projects are being run through Prue's NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship (a 3 year fellowship funded by the Natural Environment Research Council; 2016-2019):
Conservation science advice to mainstream biodiversity in the private sector (2016 – current)
Summary: Prue has been working with representatives from governments, businesses, and NGOs to raise awareness of conservation science evidence and solutions to address business challenges with measuring, evaluating and reporting on corporate biodiversity performance. Prue has provided targeted advice to multinational businesses such as BP, Kering and Sainsbury’s, and has been invited to contribute to a variety of business and biodiversity meetings, workshops, and conferences in the UK and internationally. Prue has also recently joined the advisory board for the WCMC project developing biodiversity indicators for the extractives sector, and the Natural Capital Coalition Biodiversity Project Steering Group; where she will be providing expert conservation science advice to these internationally important projects. For more details on Prue’s Knowledge Exchange activities see the KE@ICCS current activities webpage.
Accounting for biodiversity: how to build biodiversity into corporate natural capital accounting and reporting (2018 – current)
Project collaborators: University of Oxford, Natural Capital Coalition and the Institute for Chartered Accountants England and Wales
Funding: ICAEW’s Charitable Trusts and the Natural Capital Coalition
Summary: In July 2018, Prue Addison and Professor Richrd Barker convened a workshop to explore whether and how biodiversity can be integrated more comprehensively into corporate-level accounting and reporting. This workshop was kindly supported by the ICAEW’s Charitable Trusts and the Natural Capital Coalition, which helped bring together 17 participants with technical expertise across a variety of disciplines including accounting, sustainability, auditing, environmental economics, and conservation science. This topic is a complex one, which requires an in-depth understanding of the market forces that drive corporate accounting and reporting, the current status of non-financial accounting and reporting systems, an understanding of natural capital approaches to help value the living environment, and an understanding of biodiversity measurement and management. Participants engaged in enthusiastic and lively discussions around why accounting and reporting approaches are well defined in some areas (e.g. for finance and carbon), whilst other critical aspects of the natural environment, such as biodiversity, corporate accounting and reporting approaches are yet to be fully developed. A report from the workshop is now available (see link below). The next phase of this work will involve the production of a short briefing note on Accounting for Biodiversity for professional accountants, which will be produced in early 2019. Please contact Prue Addison for more information about this.
Workshop report: Biodiversity and corporate accounting and reporting workshop report.
Clarifying the spectrum of biodiversity indicator applications for business (2017 – current)
Project collaborators: University of Oxford and the IUCN
Funding: In-kind collaboration between the University of Oxford (NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship programme) and the IUCN
Summary: Many business leaders recognize the importance of accounting for their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. Corporate biodiversity accountability approaches allow businesses to demonstrate their environmentally responsible actions and be accountable both internally (e.g., reporting to operations managers) and externally (e.g., reporting to investors, regulatory bodies, stakeholders, and the general public).
Measurement of biodiversity is a relatively new concept for many businesses, and many grapple with how to distil and act on information about complex and dynamic natural systems that interact with all levels of their business. They face critical challenges around developing indicators that can help effectively measure and evaluate biodiversity performance from site- to corporate- levels. The aim of this project is to create a framework and guidance to support businesses in identifying and/or developing robust and relevant biodiversity indicators for different corporate biodiversity accountability purposes. You can read more about the project here & here.
Science workshop report: Bridging the gap between science and business practice for biodiversity indicator development
Analysis of international biodiversity targets to understand and maximise their relevance to the private sector (2017 – 2018)
Project collaborators: University of Oxford and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Funding: Valuing Nature Network
Summary: Prue has teamed up with Matt Smith (the JNCC) and a Valuing Nature Program intern, Tom Smith who is undertaking an analysis of international biodiversity targets (e.g. CBD Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals) to illustrate their relevance to the private sector. The ultimate aim of this work is to help the international biodiversity goals become significantly more visible and relevant to everyday business activities. This report is aimed at businesses already undertaking actions for biodiversity, helping make the links between their actions and international policy clearer; and for businesses commencing their journey in exploring relevant actions that they could undertake to address their impacts and dependencies on nature and contribute to the international biodiversity goals.
The outputs from this work are informing strategic engagement of UK government, its agencies and Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements Secretariats with the private sector, and have directly feed into UK preparations for meetings such as business and biodiversity discussions at the Convention for Biological Diversity COP14 in 2018. It will also be used to inform the UK government’s mainstreaming biodiversity agenda, encouraging and enhancing private sector biodiversity action, and work towards the CDB Post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy.
Main Report & Case studies: Mainstreaming international biodiversity goals for the private sector
Technical Appendix: Mainstreaming biodiversity goals for the private sector
A Collaborative Platform for Making Change: Scaling up actions for biodiversity conservation (2016 – 2018)
Project collaborators: University of Oxford, BP International, Fauna and Flora International, the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and Defra.
Funding: In-kind collaboration between the University of Oxford (NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship programme), BP International, FFI, the UNEP-WCMC, the JNCC, and Defra
Summary: The Collaborative Platform for Making Change was established in August 2016. The Platform was convened to identify opportunities for collaboration between business, governments, science providers and NGOs, in support of the delivery of international biodiversity conservation priorities.
The initiative was launched prior to the 2016 World Conservation Congress, and focussed on discussing the IUCN motions relevant to the private sector. In 2016, the platform consisted of an event series, including a webinar, questionnaire and workshop bringing together representatives from 20 business and industry associations, 10 NGOs and intergovernmental organisation, and 3 research organisations.
In 2018, the platform reconvened prior to the 2018 Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties, and provided a forum for businesses to understand and promote business engagement in the development and future implementation of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The workshop brought together representatives from 25 UK-based businesses, along with 25 representatives of the UK government, NGOs and academia.
2018 Workshop Report and information document for the Convention on Biological Diversity COP: Engaging UK based business in the development of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The future of corporate biodiversity accounting and disclosure. A live project run at the Conservation Optimism Summit, London (2017)
Project collaborators: The University of Oxford, Balfour Beatty, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Earthmind, Fauna & Flora International, IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, Kering, Luc Hoffmann Institute, Natural Capital Coalition, The B Team, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, Zoological Society of London.
Funding: Sponsorship from the Natural Environment Research Council
Summary: In April 2017 the Conservation Optimism summit played host to a very special session in London, which brought together representatives from business, NGOs and universities to discuss the emerging field of business & biodiversity. Our session focused on biodiversity accounting (e.g., the development of biodiversity metrics for business) and disclosure (e.g., communicating biodiversity performance in corporate social responsibility reports). This session brought together 12 amazing panel members to share the latest research and best practice examples of business’ involvement in biodiversity conservation.
Part 1: Summary of the panel discussion on corporate biodiversity accounting and disclosure;
Part 2: Highlights from the corporate biodiversity accounting and disclosure Q&A session;
Part 3: Five panel members’ take-home messages from the session. Featuring: Mark Gough, (Executive Director, Natural Capital Coalition), Giulia Carbone (Deputy Director, IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Programme), Martina di Fonzo (Postdoctoral researcher, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute), Pippa Howard (Director of Business & Biodiversity, Fauna & Flora International) and Keith Tuffley (CEO of The B Team).
Along with undertaking a range of applied projects with business, NGOs and government, we are also busy conducting research into corporate biodiversity accountability and working across science-policy-practice boundaries:
Corporate biodiversity accountability
Feger, C., Mermet, L., Vira, B., Addison, P.F.E., Barker, R., Birkin, F., Burns, J., Cooper, S., Couvet, D., Cuckston, T., Daily, G.C., Dey, C., Gallagher, L., Hails, R., Jollands, S., Mace, G., Mckenzie, E., Milne, M., Quattrone, P., Rambaud, A., Russell, S., Santamaria, M. and Sutherland, W.J. 2018. Four priorities for new links between conservation science and accounting research. Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13254
Bal, P., Tulloch, A., Addison, P. F. E., McDonald-Madden, E., Rhodes, J. R. 2018. Selecting indicator species for biodiversity management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1972
Addison, P. F. E., J. W. Bull, and E. J. Milner-Gulland. 2018. Using conservation science to advance corporate biodiversity accountability. Conservation Biology. doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13190.
Addison, P. F. E., and J. W. Bull. 2018. Conservation accord: Corporate incentives. Science 360:1195-1196.
Burgass, M. J., Arlidge, W. N. S., Addison, P. F. E., 2018. Overstating the value of the IUCN red list for business decision‐making. Conservation Letters, https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12456.
Arlidge, W.N.S., Bull, J.W., Addison, P.F.E., Burgass, M.J., Gianuca, D., Gorham, T.M., Jacob, C., Lloyd, S.P., Shumway, N., Watson, J.E.M., Wilcox, C., Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2018. A global mitigation hierarchy for nature conservation. Bioscience, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy1029.
Working across science-policy-practice boundaries
Bednarek, A. T., Wyborn, C., Cvitanovic, C., Meyer, R., Colvin, R. M., Addison, P. F. E., Close, S. L., et al. 2018. Boundary spanning at the science–policy interface: the practitioners’ perspectives. Sustainability Science: doi.org/10.1007/s11625-11018-10550-11629.
Rose DC, Addison P, Ausden M, Bennun L, Mills C, O’Donnell SAL, Parker C, Ryan M, Weatherdon L, Despot-Belmonte K, Sutherland WJ, Robertson RJ (2017) Decision support tools in conservation: a workshop to improve user-centred design. Research Ideas and Outcomes 3: e21074.
Keeler, B. L. , R. Chaplin-Kramer, A. Guerry, P. F. E. Addison, C. Bettigole, I. C. Burke, B. Gentry, L. Chambliss, C. Young, A. J. Travis, C. T. Darimont, D. R. Gordon, J. Hellmann, P. Kareiva, S. Monfort, L. Olander, T. Profeta, H. P. Possingham, C. Slotterback, E. Sterling, T. Ticktin, and B. Vira. (2017) Society Is Ready for a New Kind of Science—Is Academia?, Bioscience. 67, 591–592.