Who would have envisaged that the new buzz words for the Alpha generation (born between 2010-2024) to learn alphabets would be – A for Afforestation, B for Biodiversity, C for Climate change, D for Decarbonisation and so on… This needs to be inculcated in the psyche from early years, given the damage already done to the planet. Let’s dwell into ‘B’ further and explore its relevance in the current scenario.
What makes ‘Biodiversity’ such a buzzword?
Biodiversity refers to every living thing on this planet, including humans, which depend for their survival on the delicate balance created in nature. The diversity in the species is critical for our ecosystems and their existence. Over 25% of flora and fauna are under the threat of extinction due to human activities and is causing an imbalance in our ecosystem. As a consequence, according to a report by United Nations-backed panel IPBES, we are experiencing a momentous decline about 100 times higher than the average over the past 10 million years in the diversity of the species in our ecosystem. Hence, putting Biodiversity at the centre stage of our well-being is imperative.
Let’s look at ‘B’ through another lens. Do we ever consider or think about Biodiversity at the time of buying a pair of trousers or a cup of coffee or chocolate? Certainly not! Even though the natural raw materials such as cotton or coffee beans or cocoa used in the production thrive in a balanced environment. It interesting to note that over 40% of the world’s economy is derived from biological resources emphasising the existence and making biodiversity even more critical!
Over the years, climate change (highlighted as one of the key risks in World Economic Forum Report 2020) has gained momentum with progressive efforts being made to reduce emissions and keep global warming below the target of 1.5 degree Celsius. It is quite reassuring to observe the burgeoning awareness amongst the stakeholders on the importance of ESG, whereby pressing questions such as the corporate’s ability to combat climate change or its approach to reducing its carbon footprint are at the forefront. Climate Change can’t be viewed in a silo as Biodiversity is equally significant for the corporates as changes in biodiversity can lead to huge financial and economic costs. This significance hasn’t eluded the policy influencers, as it is well articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 14 & 15 in particular. The SDG underpins the importance of safeguarding habitats and protecting biodiversity.
According to a survey conducted by PwC, the extinction of species poses a serious threat to business and its existence. Many businesses are aware of the insidious impact the loss of Biodiversity can have on their longevity. One such instance to cite is the loss of bees that posed a blow to the UK economy of nearly £440 million, whereby projects had to be initiated in order to be out of the catastrophic disaster engulfing the economy.
The loss of Biodiversity causes an imbalance in the ecosystem creating a snowball effect making businesses vulnerable to climate disasters such as floods and posing a significant economic loss. In order to avert such risks, it requires a more holistic solution. This creates a compelling business rationale to protect and restore natural ecosystems such as Mangroves, which provide a shield against natural disasters. The Mangroves in the town of Odisha, India, is an exceptional example of these ecosystems, which not only provided resilience against cyclones but are also endowed with rich biodiversity supporting livelihoods.
Across the world, visionary leaders and businesses have realised that there is an opportunity to integrate biodiversity with their overall value chain in order to create a competitive advantage. This is reiterated with the Swiss Re Institute’s recent study stating that more than half of GDP depends on high functioning biodiversity and ecosystems. Establishment of Global Platform of Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), with representations from the top tyre brands, is a step towards illustrating the essence of biodiversity and how businesses address the ecosystems as an extension to their operations. Furthermore, it’s not just about mitigating adverse impacts but also about creating different revenue streams by investing in conservation commitments. The evolution of Ecotourism, a biodiversity business, with an annual growth rate of nearly 20%, is one such example.
In India, the CSR expenditure in Environment Sustainability – The biodiversity theme has experienced a surge of over 50% since 2014. Businesses have the resources and can act as a catalyst of change with their concerted efforts towards conservation. Making it a win-win approach!
We are a part of the solution! Rightly underlining the role that can be played in biodiversity conservation. Who knows what would be the new buzz words for the Beta generation (to be born between 2025-2039)?
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of India CSR and India CSR does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.