The Significance of Biodiversity: Why Corporations Should Care and Why It Matters for the Planet
At a Glance
Corporations and commercial property owners around the globe now recognize the benefits of enhanced biodiversity and ecology-based design that connects people to nature in outdoor spaces that are vibrant, rich, and alive with sounds of nature. Biodiversity refers to the totality of plants and animals in a defined open space. It is the workings of biodiversity that are responsible for the health and well-being of our planet. Ecosystems depend on biodiversity to function properly, and the loss of even a single species can have far-reaching consequences in a number of ways:
- Support for food security: Biodiversity is essential for food security as it provides the genetic diversity needed to develop new crops, breeds of livestock, and fisheries. The loss of biodiversity can lead to a reduction in food production and make our food systems less resilient to shocks such as pests, diseases, and climate change.
- Economic value: Biodiversity is a significant source of economic value through industries such as pharmaceuticals, consumer products, tourism and recreation. The loss of biodiversity can have significant economic impacts, particularly for communities that rely on these industries.
- Ecosystem services: Ecosystem services such as pollination, air and water purification, and soil health are crucial for the functioning and resilience of commercial properties. Biodiversity provides these services, and their loss can lead to reduced property value and increased maintenance costs.
- Climate change mitigation: Biodiversity plays a vital role in mitigating the impacts of climate change through carbon sequestration and ecosystem restoration. The loss of biodiversity can lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate the impacts of climate change.
- Resilience: Biodiversity makes ecosystems more resilient to environmental stressors and disturbances, such as natural disasters. When ecosystems are more diverse, they are better able to adapt to and recover from these challenges.
- Human wellbeing: Studies have shown that biodiversity positively impacts the psychological well-being of the human mind.
Biodiversity as part of a corporation’s ESG program
Corporations can have a significant positive impact on biodiversity, both directly and indirectly, through their operations and supply chains. Therefore, corporations are now including biodiversity as a key part of their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs. Biodiversity appears to be the next key focus of ESG investment after climate change. See the recent article in Financial Times, “Biodiversity quickly rises up the ESG investing agenda.”
According to a recent report by Deloitte, companies in every sector are enhancing their overall ESG programs and are optimistic about the benefits of such programs including improved return on investment. “Executives anticipate stronger stakeholder trust and elevated brand reputation as intangible benefits of enhanced ESG disclosure. Tangible benefits include increased employee retention, improved return on investment (ROI), and risk reduction.”
Risk Mitigation: Corporations rely on natural resources and ecosystem services to operate, and any disruptions or damage to these resources can cause significant financial and reputational risks. By including biodiversity in their ESG program, corporations can identify and manage these risks, ensuring the long-term sustainability of their operations.
Climate change resilience: Biodiversity can play a crucial role in climate change resilience. For example, green infrastructure such as trees, parks, and wetlands can help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events, reducing property damage and insurance costs.
Resource availability: Biodiversity provides resources that companies depend on, such as timber, water, and minerals. Changes in biodiversity can affect the availability and quality of these resources, which can impact a company's production costs and revenue.
Stakeholder Expectations: Biodiversity is an increasingly important issue for stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, and communities. By including biodiversity in their ESG program, corporations can meet these expectations and demonstrate their commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices. In addition, a corporation has property that is often located in communities that value biodiversity and expect owners and developers to act responsibly. By incorporating biodiversity into their operations and engaging with stakeholders, commercial real estate owners can build trust and enhance their reputation.
Market demand: Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact of companies on biodiversity and are willing to pay a premium for products and services that are sustainably sourced. This means that companies that prioritize biodiversity in their operations can gain a competitive advantage and increase their revenue.
Reputation and brand image: Companies that are seen as environmentally responsible and committed to biodiversity conservation are more likely to attract customers, investors, and employees who value sustainability. This can improve a company's reputation and brand image, which can lead to increased sales and profitability.
Health and Safety: Having Eco-Scaped areas for employees to decompress within their facilities footprint has been proven through studies to aid in the decompression of work stress. Coming back into a high-pressure job interior after a long walk amongst the living environment is a proven method for getting the workforce to refocus and stay clear of would be work hazards.
How GZA can help
According to the Deloitte ESG survey report, “35% of executives reported that their greatest challenge is the accuracy and completeness of data, and another 25% cited access to quality data as the greatest challenge.” GZA has experience developing biodiversity baseline inventory data, we have developed a proprietary model used to provide corporations with the data needed to measure the success of a robust biodiversity program. Once we have the baseline inventory data, GZA helps clients design and develop plans to increase the biodiversity of their sites, facilities, corporate campuses, etc. Having accurate baseline data is the only way to appropriately measure the success of a biodiversity program.
We have worked with corporations such as L’Oréal’s sustainability initiative, “L’Oréal for the Future,” which strives for 100% of their industrial facilities to document measurable increases in biodiversity within their local environment by 2030. GZA has recently completed a three-season (spring, summer, fall), 16-site survey of L’Oréal distribution and production facilities, including 14 in the U.S. and two in Canada.
GZA is committed to using our ecological expertise and creative approaches to achieve client objectives while protecting, restoring and improving the natural environment and its biodiversity. Protecting and preserving biodiversity is essential for the health and well-being of both natural ecosystems and human societies. Including biodiversity in a corporation's ESG program is crucial for managing risks, engaging stakeholders, driving innovation, complying with regulations, and contributing to long-term sustainability.