For several years, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have increasingly recognized the importance of engaging the business sector in order to achieve the goals of the CBD and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.
Recent COP decisions of relevance to this issue began to be seen as far back as COP 8 in 2006 and have included more detailed elements in the years since (see: https://www.cbd.int/decisions/ for specific wording of the decisions. For business, these include decisions VIII/17, IX/26, X/21, XI/7, and XII/10).
In particular, decisions taken at COP 10 (Nagoya, Japan: 2010) and COP 11 (Hyderabad, India: 2012) mandated the CBD Secretariat to actively undertake a variety of tasks designed to engage the business sector in the work of the Convention.
These activities have included, inter alia: developmentand dissemination of best practices and tools and mechanisms for use by businesses; development of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity; and work with partners on a variety of other business related subjects.
A key part of the delivery of this mandate has been the annual Business and Biodiversity meetings convened by the Secretariat.
These meetings evolved from the earlier “Business and the 2010 Biodiversity Challenge Meetings” (see: https://www.cbd.int/business/meetings-events/buschallenge.shtml for more information ). Starting from 2011 (as a result of the COP 10 decisions, the Secretariat began hosting meetings of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity (see: https://www.cbd.int/business/meetings-events/bm.shtml).
These events have functioned as a highlight of the engagement between the Secretariat, the business community, governments and various stakeholder groups, allowing not only good networking opportunities and a sharing of experiences, but also a channel whereby business considerations can be brought to the attention of the Parties at COP through a summary of discussions and recommendations.
In addition, they have also served to strengthen the connections between the various national and regional initiatives that make up the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity (https://www.cbd.int/business/gp.shtml).
At COP 12 (Pyeongchang, Korea: 2014) these annual meetings evolved into the CBD Business Forum. In addition, COP 12 saw a set of quite specific decisions calling on governments and the business community and requesting assistance from the Secretariat (https://www.cbd.int/decision/cop/default.shtml?id=13373).These included:
- Supporting Parties in their efforts to promote the integration of biodiversity considerations into the business sector;
- Developing reports on the progress of biodiversity mainstreaming by businesses;
- Supporting capacity-building for businesses with a view to mainstreaming biodiversity into business decisions;
- Enhancing the contribution of the business sector to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, (e.g. by developing guidance for business);
- Promoting cooperation and synergies with other forums regarding issues that are relevant for biodiversity and business engagement with respect to commodity indicators and sustainable production and consumption;
- Compiling information and analyzing best practices, standards and research about biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, and valuation of those services…to facilitate assessments of the contributions by business and to assist in the dissemination of this information…;
These business engagement decisions, coupled with the increasing profile of the CBD Business Forums and the ongoing development of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity, have significantly raised expectations amongst partner organizations, thus providing the CBD with the opportunity to play an increasingly significant role in the ongoing discussions in this area.
As noted above, the engagement of major stakeholder groups, such as business, is a key part of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Given that we are now at the half-way point of this process, it is vital to ensure that our approach to the business sector is as effective and impactful as possible.
Moreover, the work of business engagement has provided considerable support to other areas of the CBD programmes of work that also have dealings with the private sector, including the sustainable tourism programme, the various sector based programmes such as agriculture and forestry, the economic and resource mobilization sections, sustainable development, and the Nagoya Protocol.
These raised expectations mean that the 2015 Business Forum in Finland will be of particular importance in the ongoing development of the work of the Secretariat.
We are very pleased to see the progress to date and feel that the agenda of the forum strikes a good balance between practical outreach to companies and the more concrete issue-related work that we need to do to advance this process.
In particular, we feel that the sessions on Natural Capital (which is a very active topic these days) and that on Agriculture and Forests (which reflects key issues to be discussed at COP 13 in Mexico) will provide very useful venues for furthering these discussions.
It is also important to ensure that the Forum reach companies that might not otherwise have been as exposed to this issue.
Finland is the first country in the Nordic region to have established a formal business and biodiversity initiative, and our hope is that this group, coupled with active business participation at the Forum, can act as an inspiration for increased business sustainability in Finland and other countries, both in the immediate region and beyond.
Business and Biodiversity Programme Officer
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
CBD Business & Biodiversity Forum 2015 - Practices, Solutions and the Way Forward, 11-12 November in Helsinki Finland, will bring together companies, NGOs, academia, public sector and others to share best biodiversity practices and business solutions. Read more and register!