Biodiversity is everything; everything is biodiversity

Increasing regulation and nature's decline demand action

From a drop of water to a worm in the soil, from a desert to a forest of deciduous trees: the world we live in is a gathering place for nature in all its variety – nature which is our lifeline. Food, medicines, and industrial resources –– almost everything has its origin in biodiversity. There's good reason why the United Nations states that 40 percent of the world’s economy depends on biological resources. With some one million plant and animal species threatened with extinction worldwide, everything is under pressure.

For companies, this presents a new challenge and also a responsibility. Due to the increasing volume of legislation and regulations, and pressure from stakeholders, the list of issues demanding action is constantly increasing. Collecting data, creating reports, formulating strategy, and implementing the transformation so as to have a positive impact on biodiversity: how do you tackle all of these? At PwC, we combine our focus, knowledge, and the entire ecosystem of employees, knowledge partners – such as Wageningen University & Research – and also clients so as to find solutions.

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Biodiversity

'We are undermining the foundations of our economy, food security, health, and quality of life.'

Sir Bob Watson, former chairman of IPBES

Restoring biodiversity requires our undivided attention, today as well as in the future.

The climate topic has been on top of the agenda for many years. The alarming state of nature, on the other hand, is less often the subject of discussion, or of action. That needs to change, because the unprecedented rapid decline in biodiversity poses an even greater threat to humanity than global warming. That is IPBES’ view, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the counterpart of the climate-focused IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Today, about a million species of flora and fauna are threatened with extinction worldwide, and biodiversity has declined by 68 percent over the past 50 years. Current efforts are insufficient to halt this unprecedented deterioration of nature, which undermines the foundations of our economy, food security, health, and quality of life.

1937

World Population: 2,3 billion
Carbon in Atmosphere: 280 parts per million
Remaining Wilderness: 66%

1978

World Population: 4,3 billion
Carbon in Atmosphere: 335 parts per million
Remaining Wilderness: 55%

2020

World Population: 7,8 billion
Carbon in Atmosphere: 415 parts per million
Remaining Wilderness: 35%

A positive impact on biodiversity, where should we start?

Companies usually start their quest for a less negative and ultimately positive impact on biodiversity with one basic question: where should we start? The answer depends entirely on where a company operates and what activities it engages in there. Different activities create different kinds of pressure on biodiversity.

Land use is one of the key issues to consider. How much land is used, how is it used, and where exactly is it located? Other important factors – “pressure factors” – that have a negative impact on biodiversity are water consumption, pollution of the environment through ecotoxicology, or the extraction of natural resources.

Biodiversity and regulation: the time for complacency is over

Fortunately, biodiversity and nature are gaining an ever more prominent place on the international and corporate agenda. That’s apparent from the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2030, which includes the goal of planting three billion trees and reducing the use of pesticides by 50 percent. Biodiversity also plays a major role in the EU’s Taxonomy Regulation, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). The SFDR, for example, makes it obligatory to report on activities that have a negative impact on areas with vulnerable biodiversity. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) – currently being developed to ensure that organisations report on non-financial information at the same standard as on financial information – is intended to ensure that both kinds of reporting are given equal weight in companies’ decision-making.

Worldwide biodiversity has declined by 68 percent over the past 50 years.

Living Planet Report 2020

Furthermore, the UN’s COP15 scheduled for 2022 will be focussed entirely on biodiversity; it is intended to become comparable in importance to the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris in 2015. COP15 will establish the biodiversity targets for the present decade and translate them to specific guidelines.

Strategic effectiveness

More and more companies and organisations are seeking help in understanding the strategic issues regarding biodiversity. For example, a port authority has to contend with the illegal trade in protected wild animals and plants, and is looking for a way to combat it. A bank asks how to deal with the risk involved in lending to clients that contribute to deforestation. And an energy company doesn’t want to have a negative impact on the local environment when undertaking new energy projects. But how can it be sure that it doesn’t?

Knowledge of biodiversity and an integrated approach to climate and nature are essential where a positive environmental impact is concerned. Companies that plant trees on a large scale as to compensate for their CO2 pollution and thus reduce their negative impact on the climate often ignore the importance of biodiversity. Planting a large number of the same species of tree can have a negative effect on the local ecosystem. That is why the cooperation of an ESG team in which different approaches contribute new perspectives is so important. From biologists to accountants and from strategy experts to transformation specialists – together we work on strategic solutions in the field of biodiversity.

Five steps to anchor nature in business strategy

Create understanding | The nature-positive journey

Where to start?

Map out what nature means for the organization, what the current strategy is and what the playing field currently looks like. What regulations are there? What are competitors doing? Our team of specialists - including biologists, climate experts, accountants and strategists - help provide answers to these essential questions.

Creëer begrip | De natuurpositieve reis

Map out | Collaboration with nature

What are the influences, dependencies and risks?

Understanding and managing the company's impacts and dependencies on nature is an essential starting point for ensuring long-term sustainability and managing risks. We help identify the positive and negative impact on nature, dependencies on nature as well as the risks and opportunities this entails.

Breng in kaart | De samenwerking met de natuur

Set goals | The nature strategy

Translating insights into a vision and mission

This is a crucial step: develop a nature strategy. Translate all insights into a clear vision, mission and a robust transition plan. Set goals that are scientifically substantiated and integrate them into the existing strategy. This is where our transformation experts obviously play an important role. They help develop tailor-made plans so that we do not just limit ourselves to sustainable plans and ambitions, but we actually make the transition to a nature-positive future.

Stel doelen | De natuurstrategie

Take action | The implementation phase

From words to actions

This is where the real work begins. Make an inventory of all required interventions and make a selection. Ensure thorough implementation by establishing a roadmap. This requires action at your own sites, but also along the chain.

Kom in actie | De implementatiefase

Communicate | The efforts and results

Nature reporting, regulations and transparency

Be transparent. Communicating openly about all efforts and results is essential. Measure and report on nature-related influences, risks and progress. This builds trust, attracts investments and is a source of inspiration for other companies that also want to take action.

Communiceer | De inspanningen en resultaten

New tool measuring impact of daily business operations on biodiversity

Insight to determine the right targets, interventions and strategies to increase positive impact on biodiversity: the 'Biodiversity Impact Screening Tool' helps companies in a transparent and accessible way. The starting point? A company's or organisations financial records. The financial data are converted to impact using values from large databases such as Exiobase and the ReCiPe developed by the RIVM. The tool then converts this into clear numbers per pressure factor and KPIs. Would you like to know more? Read about reporting with the new ‘Biodiversity Impact Screening Tool’.

Centre for Nature Positive Business: jointly accelerating towards net zero 

We help businesses create a nature-positive future. By bringing together more than five hundred specialists across our entire PwC network, the global Centre for Nature Positive Business helps accelerate this necessary transition. We bring together knowledge around biodiversity, water, forestry, regenerative agriculture and geospatial analysis, accelerating the route to a net zero future.

What does PwC's Centre for Nature Positive Business do: 

  • It accelerates collaboration between public, private and civil society organisations to stop the loss of nature and turn the tide collectively.
  • It empowers leadership to play their part by helping the world's largest organisations and companies move to nature-positive business models.
  • It helps develop frameworks, standards and methods that underpin rapid system-wide change.
  • It supports PwC's Sustainability Academy that will upskill all 328,000 PwC employees worldwide on nature and biodiversity. This improves our clout in all projects.  

Managing nature risks: from understanding to action

The acceleration towards a nature-positive and net-zero future is badly needed. Over 55% of global gross national product depends on nature and more than half (50.6%) of the market value of listed companies on 19 major stock exchanges is subject to material nature risks, according to recent PwC research. The health of natural ecosystems and biodiversity thus has far-reaching implications.

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Contact us

Alexander Spek

Alexander Spek

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 039 89 82

Thijs IJsbrandij

Thijs IJsbrandij

Manager, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 19 67

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