For an analysis of the relevance of these decisions to the business community, please see here
Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties
The Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11), held in Hyderabad, India, in October 2012, also issued a significant decision (XI/7)
on business engagement, which reinforced the previous decisions and moved the discussion forwards in some interesting ways.
The decision called upon governments and businesses (with other stakeholders) to continue their dialogue to “…formulate relevant actions for biodiversity conservation and for the sustainable use of its components and ecosystem services and for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources…” In addition, the decision made particular reference to the 2012 International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and invited Parties to (inter alia): consider promoting the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services values into private sector activities; consider policies and legislation that halt biodiversity loss and reduce incentives, including subsidies, that are harmful to biodiversity or have biodiversity impacts; and adopt policies that respect the goals and objectives of the Convention and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including for the promotion of sustainable consumption and production that incorporate effective safeguards for biodiversity, as well as encouraging consideration of best practices.
For businesses, this decision encouraged them to (inter alia): encourage their supply chains, and other stakeholders, to report on progress made in mainstreaming the objectives of the Convention and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; analyze the impacts, dependencies, opportunities and risks of individual sectors as they relate to biodiversity and ecosystem services; consider covering, in their annual reports, the effects of their business operations on biodiversity and their reliance on ecosystem services; align their investments in support of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services; and collaborate with relevant organizations on the development of reporting standards on biodiversity.
The decision also specifically requested the Secretariat to:
- Continue to facilitate dialogue among business, government and other stakeholders through ongoing support for national, regional and international business and biodiversity initiatives, using the Global Partnership as a framework.
- Compile information on best practices that incorporates all three objectives of the Convention and those of its two Protocols, and facilitate the engagement of businesses, governments and other stakeholders in adopting such practices through various means
- Continue to work with partners to further refine the analysis of the various tools and mechanisms, and thereby help businesses (including small and medium-sized enterprises) understand, assess and adopt solutions for managing biodiversity risk that are cost-effective, credible and effective.
- Help raise awareness about the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of its components and the drivers of biodiversity loss by collaborating with appropriate partners, thereby assisting businesses to build capacity related to biodiversity and ecosystem services. The Global Platform on Business and Biodiversity website (developed with the generous support of the Government of the Netherlands) is designed to help achieve the goals specified in the decision on Business Engagement.
Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties
The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10), held in Nagoya in October 2010, issued a strong decision (X/21)
, which built upon those from previous COPs, to enhance the engagement of the private sector and involve them in the implementation process of the biodiversity targets.
The decision (X/21) called upon Governments and the private sector to engage in dialogue through the establishment of a Global Platform. Other elements in the decision called upon governments to, inter alia, promote a public policy environment enabling private sector engagement and the mainstreaming of biodiversity into corporate strategies and decision-making; develop, and report on, national activities that promote and facilitate the mainstreaming of biodiversity by business; encourage involvement of businesses as stakeholders in any future revision and implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans; and adopt sustainability criteria for government purchases of products of biological resources.
The private sector was requested to, inter alia, contribute to the implementation of the Convention as well as its Strategic Plan and to use these elements for defining concrete and measurable biodiversity targets for their operations; monitor and assess their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to develop and apply processes and production methods that minimize or avoid negative impacts on biodiversity; share and adopt lessons learned between and among business and enterprises; participate in voluntary certification schemes; adopt and track commitments to support the achievement of the three objectives of the Convention through initiatives at both national and global levels; and report on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services related activities.
Specifically, the decision (X/21/3) called upon the Secretariat to:
- Encourage the establishment of national and regional business and biodiversity initiatives by facilitating dialogue among Governments, business, and other stakeholders.
- Compile information on existing tools that can facilitate the engagement of businesses in integrating biodiversity concerns into corporate strategies and decision-making, to analyse the effectiveness of these tools in relevant economic sectors, and to make this compilation and analysis available.
- Encourage the development and application of tools and mechanisms that can facilitate the engagement of businesses in integrating biodiversity concerns into their work.
- Encourage the monitoring of the effects of these tools and mechanisms.
- Disseminate tools and examples of best practice for encouraging the participation of business.
- Encourage businesses in communicating their biodiversity-relevant activities to their consumers, customers, and other stakeholders.
Earlier Business Decisions
Decisions of relevance to the engagement of the business sector date back to COP 3 (Buenos Aires, Argentina-1996) where decision (III/6)
requested the Executive Secretary to explore possibilities for encouraging the involvement of the private sector in supporting the Convention's objectives. This was reinforced at COP 5 (Nairobi, Kenya–2000) in which decision (V/11)
resolved that the involvement of the private sector shall be included, as appropriate, on the agenda of the Conference of the Parties at its regular meetings and be integrated into the sectorial and thematic items under its programme of work. Private sector engagement was also referenced at COP 6 (The Hague, Netherlands–2002) under Goal 4.4 of the (former) Strategic Plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity under which key actors and stakeholders, including the private sector, were to be engaged in partnership to implement the Convention and to integrate biodiversity concerns into their relevant sectorial and cross-sectorial plans, programmes and policies.
COP 8 (Curitiba, Brazil-2006) saw the first stand-alone decision related to private-sector engagement. Decision (VIII/17)
urged national focal points to communicate the importance of biodiversity to companies, to encourage them to adopt practices that support the implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans and the objectives of the Convention and to include private sector representatives on national delegations and nominate them to participate in technical expert groups. The Executive Secretary was requested to compile information on the business case for biodiversity and good practice and to include the private sector as a target audience for its outreach materials. Businesses and other relevant organizations were also invited to develop and promote the business case for biodiversity, to develop and promote the wider use of good practices, reporting guidelines and standards, and to communicate to the Conference of the Parties any voluntary commitments that contributed to the fulfilment of these targets. Businesses were further invited to align their policies and practices with the three objectives of the Convention and to participate in the meetings of the Conference of the Parties.
COP 9 (Bonn, Germany-2008) in decision (IX/26)
built upon the previous decisions by furthering the call for Parties to enhance the involvement and engagement of business as well as raising awareness of the business case for biodiversity. The decision also encouraged financial institutions to include biodiversity considerations into all investments and to create investment schemes to promote sustainable business activities. Further to these points, decision IX/26 also featured an annex entitled the “Framework of Priority Actions on Business, 2008-2010” which called upon the Executive Secretary (in conjunction with partners) to help build and promote the business case for biodiversity as well as to disseminate tools and best practices (which specifically included reference to certification schemes, offset mechanisms, biotrade, and procurement policies).