News: EU Commission & Parliament focus on biodiversity and how business can help preserve it

[tweetmeme] Brussels, 13 July 2010.  A new report funded by the European Commission makes a strong case for integrating biodiversity into private sector business plans and core activities around the globe. The report reveals considerable recent growth in eco-certified products and services, growing consumer concerns for sustainable production, and shows how biodiversity can provide a substantial business opportunity in a market that could be worth  US$ 2-6 trillion by 2050. It makes seven key recommendations for businesses, and calls on accounting professions and financial reporting bodies to develop common standards to assess biodiversity impacts, and develop new tools for this purpose. “TEEB for Business” will form part of the TEEB synthesis report to be launched at a meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: “Despite some local successes, and in spite of a growing awareness of the problem, the global rate of biodiversity loss does not appear to be slowing. But this report shows that businesses can help, and I am heartened to see these tangible examples of companies that are flourishing without damaging the only planet we have.”

TEEB Study Leader Pavan Sukhdev said: “Through the work of TEEB and others, the economic importance of biodiversity and ecosystems is emerging from the invisible into the visible spectrum. It is clear that some companies in some sectors and on some continents are hearing and acting on that message in order to build more sustainable, 21st century businesses.”

Key proposals for businesses

TEEB for business recommends a series of actions to help companies minimise their biodiversity risks and seize the business opportunities ecosystems services create:

  1. Identify the impacts and dependencies of your business on biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES)
  2. Assess the business risks and opportunities associated with these impacts and dependencies
  3. Develop BES information systems, set SMART targets, measure and value performance, and report your results
  4. Take action to avoid, minimize and mitigate BES risks, including in-kind compensation (‘offsets’) where appropriate
  5. Grasp emerging BES business opportunities, such as cost-efficiencies, new products and new markets
  6. Integrate business strategy and actions on BES with wider corporate social responsibility initiatives
  7. Engage with business peers and stakeholders in government, NGOs and civil society to improve BES guidance and policy.

Biodiversity is good for business

The report finds that while a majority of companies still treat biodiversity superficially in their reports, growing numbers are aware of the potential benefits. Biodiversity and ecosystem services offer opportunities for all business sectors, and their integration can bring significant added value by ensuring the sustainability of supply chains, generating new products, creating and penetrating new markets and attracting new customers.

Policies to manage biodiversity and ecosystem risks can also help to identify new business opportunities, such as reducing input costs through improved resource efficiency, developing and marketing low impact technologies, managing and designing projects to reduce ecological footprints, and providing professional services in risk assessment and management/adaptation.

Estimates developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers for “sustainability-related global business opportunities in natural resources (including energy, forestry, food and agriculture, water and metals)” suggest a potential market in the range of US$ 2-6 trillion by 2050 (at constant 2008 prices). About half of this is “additional investments in the energy sector related to reducing carbon emissions”. Markets for biodiversity and ecosystem services are growing, as shown by data compiled by Forest Trends and the Ecosystem Marketplace:

–       The certified agricultural products market was valued at over US$ 40 billion in 2008 and is expected to reach up to US$ 210 billion by 2020, and may reach US$ 900 billion by 2050.

–       Payments for Ecosystem Services for water-related ecosystem services and watershed management account for only US$5 billion in 2008, but are expected to total more than 30 billion by 2050.


The planet’s natural and nature-based assets – from individual species to ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs, freshwaters and soils – are declining at an alarming rate. Biodiversity loss costs billions to the global economy every year, undermining economies; business prospects and opportunities to combat poverty.

TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – is a project funded by the European Commission and governments including Germany, Norway and the UK, dedicated to building the economic case to assist economies make transformational policy choices and changes in order to address this crisis and bring greater intelligence to the way nature-based assets are managed. TEEB will publish a final synthesis report in advance of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s meeting in Nagoya, Japan later in the year.

European Parliament Views

The EU needs to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 and to restore biodiversity wherever feasible, says the Environment Committee in a report approved on 14th July. The report assesses how the relevant EU legislation has been implemented to date, and advocates mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into all policy areas.

Biodiversity loss has high costs

Environment Committee MEPs “deeply regret” that the EU aim of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has not been met, and say this failure to stop biodiversity loss is ethically, ecologically and economically unacceptable. A European Commission assessment in 2008 found that 50% of species and up to 80% of habitats in Europe are under threat, and some studies predict that the cost of welfare loss from biodiversity loss, currently about €50 billion per year, will rise to €14 trillion or 7% of estimated GDP per year by 2050.

Mainstreaming conservation

The EU’s new headline target of halting biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020 and restoring them where feasible is nonetheless welcomed in the report by Esther de Lange (EPP, NL), which looks at the implementation of EU biodiversity conservation law.

MEPs stress that “halting biodiversity loss constitutes the absolute minimum level of ambition to be realised by 2020” and call on the Commission to ensure that biodiversity is further mainstreamed into other EU policy areas – such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, regional policy and cohesion, industry, development co-operation, research and innovation. The EU should also strive to step up international efforts to avert biodiversity loss and thus help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, they add.

Public and private funding

MEPs believe that public spending alone will not suffice to achieve the EU headline target and they therefore underline the importance of corporate responsibility in protecting biodiversity. The Commission is asked to look at ways of implementing policies that encourage investment in conserving biodiversity and discourage investment that impacts on biodiversity, in both the public and private sectors. MEPs also underline the need to incorporate external costs and risks, such as the damage done to biodiversity or costs incurred to support biodiversity, into the final price of products on the market.

Further information:

The TEEB for Business report is available at

The EU Business and Biodiversity Platform:

Citation:  Press Release of the European Commission IP/10/933, Press Release of the European Parliament REF. : 20100712IPR78665


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